In 1985, a homesick expat named Peter Myers opened an English grocery in the West Village on the Fourth of July.
(Ah, British irony.)
Today, Myers of Keswick remains largely unchanged: It occupies the storefront with its original black and white checkerboard floor and elderflower sodas chilling inside a refrigerated wooden cabinet. Regulars stop in for standard British goods like salad cream, digestives and pork pies.
"It brings the comforts of home to the Brits in New York," says Jenny Myers, Peter's daughter, who now runs the shop with her husband, Paul.
The curious thing about Peter Myers is that he never intended to open a store at all. He landed stateside in 1972 and took a bartending job at the Bells of Hell, a 13th Street watering hole. It wasn't until his father, Thomas, arrived for a six-week-long stay that the pair began baking pork pies in their home kitchen to distribute at happy hour.
Nino Saldano (left) has worked in the kitchen for 26 years; A portrait of Thomas Myers hangs above the kitchen (right).
The recipes were those of Peter's grandfather, a butcher who owned the original Myers, located in the English town of Keswick. "British butchers sold ready-made pies in their shops," explains Jenny Myers. "It was part of the trade."
Demand for the pies--and a general want of mushy peas, treacle, barley water and piccalilli, a vegetable relish--convinced Myers to open his outpost on Hudson Street.
Like all expats, the Myers family is far from home, but they keep the country close to their hearts. And it's clear that after nearly 30 years, these Brits have seized a little piece of New York for custard and canned baked beans and the Queen, whose portrait hangs above the kitchen next to a photograph of Thomas Myers.
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