Eagle Provisions for sale as brothers split

On the chopping block! G’wood Heights Polish grocery for sale

The Brooklyn Paper
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It could be the end of an Eagle.

Eagle Provisions, a Polish grocery store that has served Greenwood Heights for 75 years, is up for sale, but its demise is not assured just yet. The recent decision to put the three-story building at Fifth Avenue and 18th Street on the market for a reported $9 million came from one owner over the objection of the other, according to the pair of proprietors.

“I just can’t do this forever,” said John Zawisny, who put the store up for sale and is the elder of the two brothers who bought it back in 1979. “It’s time for me to retire.”

Richard Zawisny, on the other hand, wants to keep the enterprise alive and churning out kielbasa, and is fishing for investors to help make that happen.

“I’m looking for some partners to go in with me,” he said. “We’re in with the neighborhood, and we want to stay.”

News of the possible closure comes less than two months after this paper urged readers to patronize the store as part of its ongoing “Go There Now” series profiling longtime neighborhood institutions.

The top two floors of the Eagle Provisions building have been vacant since a 1966 fire. Current zoning allows for a residential building as tall as four stories with ground-level retail to be built on the spot.

The store first opened in 1939 as White Eagle Market, and the Zawisnys’ father worked there for 18 years. It was their father’s dream to have a business in the family and, after learning the grocery trade at Pathmark, the Zawisny brothers decided to go in on the shop.

The brothers tweaked the store’s inventory to try to keep up with changing tastes as the neighborhood’s Polish community shrank. Figuring drink is universal, they expanded the beer selection to an astronomical 2,500 varieties. Nevertheless, the store has struggled in recent years, according to the brothers.

“We’ve adapted as much as we could,” John Zawisny said. “But there’s only so much you can do.”

Richard Zawisny, who handles the deli, keeping it stocked with fresh hot dogs, kielbasa, and potato pancakes of his own making, said the city has been making it increasingly difficult to stay afloat. He cites property taxes, fees from the neighborhood business improvement district, and fines from consumer affairs.

“The city is making it impossible for small businesses,” he said. “They’re killing us.”

The elder Zawisny said he would hate to see the store close, but he has had health problems and wants to spend more time with his family.

“If someone wants to buy it and keep the store open that’s great. I’d love that,” he said. “I just can’t do this six days a week anymore.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

DC from Park Slop says:
Another sellout of the nieghborhod. So sad so see this place go to make room for more yet pretentious hipster/ yuppie cafe/bar.
July 21, 2014, 9:34 am
ty from pps says:
Hey DC,
Instead of whining and insulting the owner, why don't you buy the place and make sausages?
July 21, 2014, 9:46 am
Hortense Szwrwarkotzy from South Brooklyn says:
Greenwood Heights? Find me a reference to that neighborhood 75-50-25, even 12 years ago, thanks Matty!
July 21, 2014, 12:25 pm
ty from pps says:
Shut up, Hortense. Almost every single neighborhood name was an invention by real estate people -- either developers or sales. The rest were inventions by other people.

If you lived in 1910, would you have been whining, "Show me a reference to 'Times Square' 50, even 10 years ago!"

Guess what, Hortense? If you say "Greenwood Heights" most people know where you're talking about -- including YOU! That's called an effective place name.
July 21, 2014, 12:42 pm
Ed from Greenwood Heights for life says:

You are an idiot. And completely incorrect.

Greenwood Heights Protestant Union Church was dedicated in 1886.
July 21, 2014, 1:44 pm
John from Williamsburg says:
It is always frustrating for me to see people complain about the demise of businesses that are no longer popular enough to survive financially. If enough people wanted to eat those sausages, the the place would stay open. Simple supply and demand.
July 21, 2014, 3:15 pm
John Wasserman from Prospecr Heights says:
Yes, they are quite large. Even your own John Wasserman might take 3 days to eat one of those.
Perhaps they should make smaller, more edible sausages?
Pardon the suggestion.
July 21, 2014, 3:22 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Take the money, retire somewhere that doesn't bend you over in taxes and enjoy life; or do what the owners of Juniors did. It makes no sense to fight with blood, not over money.
July 21, 2014, 4:45 pm
Frank Costello from Sunset Park says:
Trying to educate this site is futile but if any of you knuckleheads bother to do the research-- i.e. NOT linking to moronic real estate websites or talk from false "memory"--

1) YES the 'Greenwood Heights' name has floated about intermittently since the early 1900s

2) You know what the addresses were?

3a) 7th Ave & 45th-- choral society
3b) 5th Ave & 29th-- P.S. 172, 4th Ave & 29th

4) 'Neighborhood' conceptions are fluid but the fact remains, at no point until recently in Eagle's history was it ever in 'Greenwood Heights.'

5) Had they opened in 1915-- maybe.

6) Can any you sage historians tell me the names of the slaves who used to live and work in 'Greenwood Heights'?
July 21, 2014, 10 pm
ty from pps says:
Frank --
1.) Super, but not really that important.
2.) Addresses for what?
3.) That's nice.... ??
4.) Yes. Great. But *now* this area is very commonly referred to as Greenwood Heights. What would you like to call it?
5.) Great, but who cares. Saying "a Polish grocery store that has served Greenwood Heights for 75 years" is still perfectly accurate. If I said, "serving businesses in Dumbo since 1950," would you freak out too? The term Dumbo didn't exist until the late 70s and didn't have any currency until the early-80s.
6.) No. I don't. What did the 18th Century slaves name this neighborhood?

I will add anther question, Frank:
7.) Why-oh-why do you find this name so objectionable? Like I said to Hortense, it's a very effective place name -- even *you* know what everyone is talking about when they say Greenwood Heights. Do you have an alternative for this area between "South Slope" and "Sunset Park"? (assuming you don't vehemently object to those names and are too distracted to answer my question)
July 22, 2014, 7:50 am
Jim from Sunset Park says:
I'd call Eagle's neighborhood South Slope. For me, Greenwood Heights begins at 22nd street where the Cemetery begins.
July 22, 2014, 8:43 am
ty from pps says:
(Not arguing with you, cuz a few blocks here and there is perfectly reasonable -- but the expressway is my major demarcation. On the south side, I'd say Melody Lanes is the first major business of Sunset Park -- half the time, I refer to it as "Sunset Bowl" for some reason.)
July 22, 2014, 8:50 am
Oliver from Sunset Park says:
I always referred Eagle's area as "South Slope", and would agree with Jim's demarcation for Greenwood Heights, but I'm also not going to get my knickers in a bunch over a couple of blocks here or there. Neighborhoods can be exceptionally subjective.

I had friends who lived on 18th St. for awhile, about 15 years ago, and we always sort of referred to their neighborhood as "South Slope", with a bit of a sarcastic wink, knowing that this was partially due to real estate interests.
July 22, 2014, 10:20 am
DC from Park SLop says:
Always considered it Park Slope since im a kid Greenwood Heights bagan at the cemetary. But we have been outsourced as original Brooklynites and the gentrification invasion has seen fit to call it what they want Neighborhood has gone downhill SMH
July 22, 2014, 11:53 am
Manfred Jones says:
Heights are up high, this is on the bottom of a slope. Should be called Greenwood Slopes, or the begining of Sunset Park.
July 22, 2014, 2:17 pm
DUANE from Park Slope says:
I live in Park Slope from 1981 to 1997 then I move to Florida and I gotta tell you Park slope was one of most beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn occu textually speaking architecturaly second to Bedford Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge is beautiful sunset park is great but Greenwood Heights the only thing I could describe Greenwood high choose the end of your street faces the Greenwood Cemetery to me Greenwood Heights is where God lives above the cemetery I go back every 2-3 years to the old neighborhood and I am amazed at what I see what happened to Smitty's bar on 5th. Ave and 9th. Stand to think that White Eagle is gone yes a lot of changes have been made for the better some for the worse but hey overall it's still an amazing place to live close to Manhattan
May 25, 2015, 1:04 pm
DUANE from Park Slope says:
yes I live in Tampa now run a successful business but my heart will always belong to Park Slope Sunset Park and Bay Ridge and let's not forget the very quiet Windsor Terrace
May 25, 2015, 1:08 pm
Mary Ann from Park Slope says:
My parents who were born in 1908 grow up in park slope. I was born in 1947 and lived there till 1977. At that time the neighbor was red lined. my mom was mugged 2 time on 17th Street where she lived since she was 16. I started a family and needed a place where my kids could ride bikes and play with other children. Off to Staten Island. I was so sad about White Eagle. Since I am polish it was a family tradition to go there the best in town. You will be missed by me and my family. Only if you grow up there in the 40 to 70 can you say change is not always good. I will always have wonderful memories of my childhood there.
June 26, 2015, 11:16 pm

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