Dominican Classic Margot Restaurant Being Forced Out by Rising Rents

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“You can actually taste the food. It’s not like McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. It’s made with love and care,” a young, but loyal customer said to The New York Times when describing Margot Restaurant, an Alto Manhattan gem. For the last 26 years, owner Margarita Santana has tied the Dominican community, especially those who were building new lives in the United States, to their roots.

Los Afro-Latinos
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On December 31, the building that houses Margot Restaurant, a carniceria, and a money wiring service will be closing for renovations. But because of the increasing cost of rent, Margot’s unlikely to come back, according to Fox News Latino.

Elianny S.
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“It’s too much to start over,” said Nurys Correa, one of Margarita’s sisters. The 68-year-old, who is the youngest and works from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on most days said that the only way she can see Margot coming back is if they find a similar-sized space in Washington Heights. Otherwise, they’d have to start over completely.

Margarita never saw herself going into the restaurant business. In the DR, she worked as a nurse, but when she immigrated to the U.S., she did what many immigrants do – she did what she could. That’s how she ended up at a New Jersey factory making coffee filters.

Mo J.
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She and her co-workers missed their comfort foods, which lead her to quit her job to cook. She started off in her own kitchen, and then upgraded to the basement of her building. As her food became more popular – thanks in part to beauty salon workers and their clients – she and her three sisters were able to open Margot at 3822 Broadway.

Washington Heights, which is often called one of Manhattan’s last true neighborhoods, is changing quickly. In 2014, Curbed said Washington Heights was the No. 2 fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in NYC. It’s affecting both renters and small businesses, who have had their buildings bought beneath them and new landlords refuse to renew their leases.

Vanessa M.
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In June, a block of Latino businesses between W. 162nd and W. 163rd on Broadway were facing eviction.

“There has been a lot of change – in all instances [landlords] are dealing with some of the oldest businesses in the neighborhood,” said Carlos Segura, one of Margarita’s sons. There are people who are trying to help Margot fight back, but they admit it has been difficult thus far.

L. Nichols
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