Shelter Island’s beloved Marie Eiffel Market may close due to COVID-19
One of the most treasured cafés in Shelter Island is under threat of closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The owner of Marie Eiffel Market — which draws both locals and celebrity fans including Jessica Chastain and Charlotte Gainsbourg — tells Page Six that she even called her landlord to give up the market’s lease.
But friends and neighbors have scraped together $100,000 to keep the doors open.
The market’s Parisian owner, who goes by Marie Eiffel, usually opens her store for the season on April 15. However, amid this year’s pandemic, she opened in March to provide groceries for elderly regulars who were too nervous to go to regular supermarkets.
“They asked ‘Can you please sell us vegetables?,’ so I emptied all my fridges and started selling salads,” Eiffel told us. “We started an online service, but you don’t make any money doing this.”
Even so, Eiffel — who also runs a successful catering business — was optimistic the market would survive. She runs the business with an annual $200,000 credit line from her bank and $100,000 on her credit card, which, in the past, she usually earns back quickly over the summer months.
But it costs more than $40,000 a month to run. By the end of May, Eiffel said: “I looked at my numbers after Memorial Day, which was a disaster, I looked at [partner Jason Penney] and said ‘We’re not going to make it … we won’t be able to reimburse the bank and the credit card, and if we don’t do that, then how will we re-open next year?’”
After sending a text to her landlord to give notice on her waterfront property, Marie told customers she was closing.
However, without her knowledge, Marie’s customers came to the rescue and set up a GoFundMe page for donations. Eiffel told us: “I didn’t know what a ‘GoFundMe’ is. For me, as a person to ask people for money … I can’t do it.”
The GoFundMe has a target of $300,000 and has already been inundated by members of the community — including a donation of $1000 by hotelier André Balazs, owner of the nearby hotspot Sunset Beach, which is now closed for the summer due to the pandemic.
So far, more than $100,000 has been raised in a week.
Eiffel said of her predicament: “I don’t want to close — it makes me cry every time I think about it. This is my community, but I can’t believe what people have done to help me.”
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