El Batey grocery store in Echo Park has been open for 47 years, but the new building owners care little about neighborhood nostalgia. Earlier this week, El Batey and its owner, Evelia, were given an eviction notice to vacate by June 5, 2014 for not being able to meet rent increases of 300%, according to her son and a report by The Eastsider LA.
El Batey is yet another historically present business that is either being bought or pushed out by the on-going wave of gentrification that is changing the face of Echo Park.
While some say that stores like El Batey are not adapting to the changing demographic of the neighborhood, others say that whether adapted or not, a 300% increase is simply a greedy request by the new landowners.
After a steep purchase of $9.275 million for the building, it’s as if the new landowners are trying to make up for the high ticket price by wiping out old residents, both commercial and not, as they seek new contracts.
Some may remember that Flounce Vintage was also forced out due to a series of events that included a flood and unsuccessful lease negotiations with the same landowners that are now evicting Evelia and El Batey. It was a troubling experience for Flounce and its owner, Lisa Gerstein, who successfully raised $5,000 to help her with the transition into her new location at 718 N. Virgil Ave.
Perhaps because she relates with Evelia, or more so because she remembers the neighborly bond their shops had in Echo Park, Lisa Gerstein has initiated an event to buy out Evelia and all of her products so that Evelia can at least end El Batey’s run on a good note.
On the Facebook event, titled “Help Us Buy Out Evelia’s Store!”, Lisa states:
Our Dear friend Evelia is being forced out of the store on Echo Park Ave where she has been for almost 50 years. She has been a neighborhood anchor, unfailingly generous to numerous individuals in our community. As of this past Friday, the new property owners served her with an eviction notice for June 5th. For so many years Evelia has looked out for us. Now we have one week to help her.
So here’s my thought: shopping flash mob.
Let’s line people up and down the block, buy out her inventory, and show her our support. Perhaps we can make this transition a little bit easier for her. She is on board and said that this would be a huge help to her.
Anyone with any thoughts, ideas, musical instruments or logistical help please contact me ASAP.
The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 31st, 2014 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at El Batey, 1557 Echo Park Ave Los Angeles, CA 90026.
Lisa is not the only person who wants to take action to either help Evelia or to show their displeasure toward the new landowners of the building. Others are thinking of creating “Save El Batey” signs around Echo Park, and in the long-term, others are beginning to organize commercial boycotts for future businesses that will take over the spaces at Grafton Lofts.
Either way, Evelia, 74, does not seem to have any plans for relocation, but is keeping positive about any possible last minute negotiations.