September 23, 2015 / Brooklyn news / Boerum Hill / The Greatest Story Ever

Latest Jesse’s Deli stunt: renting front window on Airbnb

Bodega that staged ‘artisanal makeover’ now renting out front window on Airbnb

Sign of the times: It wouldn’t be a Jesse’s Deli campaign without tongue-in-cheek posters.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Call it a corner snore.

Jesse’s Deli — the Boerum Hill bodega that famously re-branded its everyday products as expensive artisanal specialities to protest a rent hike it can’t afford — is now listing space in its front window on Airbnb to rail against rising rents affecting mom-and-pop shops across New York, according to the mastermind behind the tongue-in-cheek stunt.

“We’re trying to dramatize the plight that many small businesses are facing with gentrification all over the city,” said Doug Cameron, who lives nearby and organized both campaigns with fellow advertising pro and Jesse’s regular Tommy Noonan.

The deli, a neighborhood staple of 25 years, is advertising shelf space at the front of its Atlantic Avenue storefront on the room-rental website for $329 per night — the price it would need to charge to cover the $10,000-a-month rent the store claims its landlord is demanding, Cameron said.

You can’t actually sleep overnight in Jesse’s, but visitors are encouraged to lie down in a bed in the store window and post a selfie on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag “#AirBnBodega.”

And the Airbnb listing really sells the experience.

“Set in a gentrifying neighborhood, this newly furnished semi-private room is separated from the 25-year-old Jesse’s Deli by a potato chips stand,” the page reads.

Other advertised amenities include a “luxurious walk-in refrigerator” and a “chef-style kitchen with professional toaster, meat slicer, and microwave.” The mini-bar also offers “assorted seasonal craft beers and imports” — though only with valid identification indicating 21 years of age.

Jesse’s made national headlines in June when it staged an “artisanal makeover” under the guidance of Cameron and Noonan, who decorated the store with posters advertising Slim Jims as “Hand-Cured Salami Tubes” for $5.99 each and Raid as $15.99 “Artisanal Roach Bombs” to illustrate the kind of shop that could afford the rent they say landlord Karina Bilger is asking for.

The deli has since given up trying to fight the rent increase — the owners expect to receive eviction papers and are looking for new locations, according to Mohammed Itayim, the son of eponymous owner Jesse.

But with nothing to lose, Itayim said he gave Cameron and Noonan free rein of the market for another gimmick.

“I was a little hesitant at first with the posters but when I saw all the positive reactions, I gave them free creative license, like that’s your window do whatever you want with it,” he said.

They’re using the Airbnb stunt to rally behind a Council bill that might save other small businesses from the same plight as Jesse’s — the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would guarantee local entrepreneurs 10-year leases with an option to renew and a structured arbitration process for negotiations.

Twenty-three councilmembers have already sponsored the bill, and the two bodega-loving rabble-rousers are hoping the campaign will win over the additional three members needed to pass the measure — which they have re-branded as “Bill de Bodega.”

The pair are hoping some big-name Brooklynites will stop by Jesse’s to take part in the “bed-in.” Mos Def and Ethan Hawke are both customers, said Cameron — though they’re dreaming even bigger.

“Of course we’d love to get hip-hop royalty Beyonce and Jay Z in here,” he said. “And since he’s in town maybe we should try and get the Pope.”

Bilger could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @HMacBKPaper.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pamela from Canarsie says:
Whiney cry-babies. Pay the rent or just move your store. You run a business to make money, and it's not even a special store. Boo-hoo, crappy deli needs to move to slightly less trendy store front. It's no loss for anyone.
Sept. 23, 2015, 3:54 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Guess you don't have to worry out there in Canarsie.
Sept. 23, 2015, 6:13 am
Zacharia from "BoCoCa" says:
Many moons ago, in 2009, when I Zacharia moved to BoCoCa, I already thought that my ancestors from Michigan who pioneered and settled here in 2004 had cleansed the area free of any kind of "delis' or "bodegas" deemed "affordable" for "Brooklynites".

I shall do whatever it takes to fulfill the cleansing prophecy if necessary. I will take 3 - 6 months leave from my position as Assistant Intern to the Creative Technology Coordination Director at Dude Under-Skateboard Art Company whose offices are underwater in a repurposed WWII submarine in the Gowanus Canal.


Zacharia Xavier Cleaver
Sept. 23, 2015, 6:22 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
It wasn't that funny the first time.
Sept. 23, 2015, 7:21 am
Small biz owner from Brooklyn says:
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce does nothing to address this. Then again, what are you going to do when you have a chamber who has partnered with Air B&B and refuses to address the ongoing issues of this company, and how they take away revenue from REAL hotels & B&B's. Again, chamber of commerce doesn't care, when they have Adriana Scotti from Florida the so-called liason for the Chamber who has no clue where the real Brooklyn businesses are.
Sept. 23, 2015, 8:48 am
Samir Kabir from Downtown Brooklyn says:
One corporation will soon own everything in the whole world. Controlling not only what we consume, but what we think and how we view the world. Good luck to Jesse, Mohammed Itayim and family. I have passed by the Deli many times in the past 20 years. I did not go in too often, as they sell alcohol (as I recall) and I am Muslim, and try not to shop where alcohol is sold. No matter, I understand their plight and wish them the best. Eid Mubarak!
Sept. 23, 2015, 9:17 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
Let's play guess the race of the landlord.
Sept. 23, 2015, 9:28 am
Freddy from Flatbush says:
I'll bet the landlord is NOT a member of the human race. No landlords are.
Sept. 23, 2015, 11:35 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Air BnB is illegal and it should be shut down. There are city zoning laws that deny anyone to use their property as a hotel especially if their property isn't one officially. Also, many of those who use Air BnB show little to no respect for the place they are in or the neighbors either. I'm just glad that both de Blasio and Schneiderman are cracking down on these. It's not the sharing economy that I hate, it's the shady economy that bothers me. More importantly, Air BnB hurts legitimate hotels who had to go through all the paperwork to get their property up.
Sept. 23, 2015, 2:38 pm
Brian Kerk from Boerum Hill says:
Joe: you don't have to guess, it's pretty easy to find the owner of a building online. In fact, previous articles on this very subject have named her: Karina Bilger. As to her "race" you could probably call it "Aryan" as she's a tall blond lass from Zurich.

I know, your racist tuchus was totally gonna say "Jew" right? Looks like just the opposite.
Sept. 23, 2015, 8:28 pm
Karen from Eastern Parkway says:
So they're showing a loose, fake blonde woman in a pair of "poosy hugger" jeans bending over a bed. The caption is sleep here (with her?) for $300 dollars a night. This is degrading to women. This "deli" is run by misogynistic pervs. I'll be glad they day they close. Meanwhile, someone help that cheap skank in the window.
Sept. 24, 2015, 5:34 am
Pastrami on Rye from Rockaways says:
I think rent hikes are only justifiable if the actual value of the property is being improved upon through building upkeep.
Sept. 24, 2015, 8:56 am
CEG from Boerum Hill says:
This bodega, like most, is a scuzzy ——hole. Always has been. They swept the foor, replaced the lightbulbs and cleaned it up some, but it's still a crappy, overpriced ——hole. Why does everyone in this city think they are entitled to "put the brakes" on gentrification and operate their crappy business in perpetuity? You're not some kind of indigenous people, we're not obligated to protect your bodega from market changes or changes in community standards. Sure, get nasty about your new neighbors, get snarky about disruptive technologies and ideas, get ——ty about capitalism. Doesn't matter. At the end of the day you're selling an overpriced product in a filthy store that everyone around you would rather was an empty store front than what it is now. You want charity, apply for another low interest small business loan. Stop assuming property owners are obligated to make YOUR business successful.
Sept. 24, 2015, 10:25 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
And what replaces it will be underpriced? I doubt it.
Sept. 24, 2015, 11:06 am
Local Yocal from Near Atlantic Yards says:
Tal from Pleasantville is right. Now the Brooklyn Chamber has partnered with Air B&B. This is so wrong, but the chamber is a big fraud to the biz owners in Brooklyn, as they put their spin on everything and take credit for everything. Yet, the small businesses who really need assistance can't get any from the chamber and good luck with NYC SBS where they dont' help small business and nobody knows what they do. On another note, why is NYC & Co silent about Air &B?
Sept. 24, 2015, 11:38 pm
Beaver from Williamsburg says:
I'm sorry, but who really cares about a deli? There ten a' penny. This isn't some kind of special local store, and their jokes aren't that funny. It's like they want to be really badly, but don't quite hit the mark...
Sept. 25, 2015, 1:17 am

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