Stunning photos show NYC's iconic mom-and-pop shops

Stunning photos show NYC’s iconic mom-and-pop shops from an Italian restaurant frequented by the mafia to a candy store beloved by celebrities

  • The new book Store Front NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present is an effort to showcase the beauty of NYC mom & pop shops
  • James and Karla Murray say they hope the book will raise awareness about some of these businesses and encourage New Yorkers to explore their neighborhoods 

From an Italian restaurant frequented by the mafia to a candy store beloved by celebrities, stunning photos have revealed the unique mom-and-pop shops that have given character to neighborhoods across the city for more than a century.

A new book from husband-and-wife photography duo James and Karla Murray celebrates the aesthetics and history of hundreds of these small stores that have long served specific communities.

They include Vesuvio bakery on Prince Street which has been serving pastries for 102 years, Brooklyn’s oldest Italian restaurant, Bamonte’s, which was once a mafia haunt and Ray’s Candy Store in the East Village – a favorite of celebrities.

Some of the storefronts pictured in the book have shuttered since they were captured by the team. Many of them didn’t make it to the last decade, and many more didn’t make it through the downturned economy of the pandemic. 

The Murrays told they wanted their book, Store Front NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present, to preserve their memories and promote those that still exist.

Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street near Thompson in Soho, 2004

Ray’s Candy Store – an East Village staple that supplies soft serve and more to celebrities, NYU students and the masses – on Avenue A near East 7th street. Pictured here: Ray in 2019

Stella’s Pizza on 9th Avenue near West 17th Street in Chelsea, 2020

‘Our goal has always been to help preserve these lovely independent owned stores because, to us, they play such a vital part in the community,’ said Karla. ‘And they need our help.’ 

Some of the storefronts featured in the book remain neighborhood classics from across the boroughs, like Ray’s Candy Store on the Lower East Side, which has long provided soft serve ice cream and more to NYU students, celebrities, and anyone else who wanders by.

But others, like M&G’s soul food diner in Harlem, and D. D’Auria and Sons Pork Store in the Bronx’s Little Italy neighborhood, have shuttered, leaving their neighborhoods bereft of small businesses that once catered to the cultural flavors of the area.

James emphasized that the book is not ‘a melancholy lament’ about places the city has lost to the years, but rather a ‘celebration’ of the independently owned businesses across the five boroughs.

‘Even if a neighborhood changes its ethnic background … it’s exciting to see the new stores that are opening up,’ said Karla. 

He said he hopes the book teaches people to appreciate their neighborhoods a little bit more.

He encouraged anyone reading to ‘get up from your computer and go into your local neighborhood … it’s a better way of doing things.’

In sum, the book is an effort – an ‘artistic intervention,’ according to Karla – to display the beauty of some of the businesses that breathe life into the city.

The book, Store Front NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present, is out now and available on Amazon as well as in a number of independent book stores.

D. D’Auria and Sons Pork Store in the Bronx’s Little Italy neighborhood. Pictured here in 2004, the store has since closed

Bamonte’s, the oldest Italian restaurant in Brooklyn and at various times a favorite hangout spot of mafia members. In 2009, after he was released from prison, Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Rabito of the Bonanno crime family, was forbidden by his probation officer from returning to several Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, which reportedly included Bamonte’s. Pictured here in 2016, the restaurant remains open on Withers Street near Union, Williamsburg

CBGB & OMFUG, a music club in Manhattan’s East Village that closed in 2006. The iconic venue opened on Bowery at Bleecker street in 1973 

Lenox Lounge, a long-standing bar in Harlem on Malcolm X Boulevard between west 124th and 125th. Known for, among other things, its maximalist décor, the lounge closed in 2012 and the building was demolished in 2017

Richard’s Barber shop on Nostrand Avenue near Park Place in Crown Heights. Pictured in 2004

Ralph’s Discount City on Chambers Street near Church Street in Tribeca. Pictured here in 2004, the store closed in 2007

M&G Soul Food Diner on West 125th street and Morningside Avenue in Harlem. Pictured in 2007. The soul food establishment closed in 2008

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