Neighbors, local politicians, and Hollywood celebrities packed into the landmarked Lundy’s building as its latest tenant, Cherry Hill Gourmet Market, celebrated its grand opening on Thursday. Cherry Hill management catered to a crowd of nearly a thousand with mountains of food prepared in its own kitchen.
In attendance was Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a martial arts star who has appeared in movies including Mortal Kombat and Memoirs of a Geisha, and is currently working on Tekken. Two other martial arts stars accompanied him, circulating amongst Sheepshead Bay residents while nibbling food and posing for photos.
“What I like most about [Cherry Hill Gourmet Market] is how much attention they made to making it a classy environment,” said Tagawa. “It makes you feel at home and makes you feel you want to come here and hangout.”
Tagawa said he’s visited Sheepshead Bay’s waterfront before and likes the neighborhood. “Especially in the summer, with all the girls,” he noted. “It’s hard for American women to compete with Russian women. Russians are beautiful with ease, and American women have to work at it.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stopped by before the crowds to strike a pose with management and employees. He quickly expired his Russian vocabulary, repeating “da-da” and “spociba” between photos. Other politicians showed up, including Republican contender for the 46th City Council district, Gene Berardelli, and would-be City Council candidate Simon Belsky, among others.
The event pulled in hundreds of people, ciphoning street traffic with an outdoor buffet and an additional one indoors. Residents overall seeemed eager at the prospect of free food, devouring tray after tray of assorted rices, meats, finger foods (including cocktail shrimp and even lobster), and salads. David Isaev, owner, and his right-hand man, Moisha, seemed satisfied with the turnout, but asked that we don’t quote them and instead “Talk to the people.”
Russian and non-Russian residents alike seemed to enjoy the all-out event.
“Everything’s perfect,” swooned Eugena Dokhno. She and her husband Alex came to Cherry Hill to shop, but saw the event and put their baskets down.
“It’s beautiful,” said Alex. “It’s a very good kitchen” with excellent food, he added.
The controversy over Cherry Hill‘s alleged zoning violations didn’t temper praise for their food. Judd Fischler, president of the 60th Precinct Community Council, reminisced about the grandeur of the old Lundy’s restaurant, which he patronized in earlier years. He noted that though zoning ordinances ought to be followed, the owners of Cherry Hill had put together an impressive market and cafe.
“As far as this is concerned, it’s definitely a magificent place. It’s out of the ordinary,” said Fischler. “You couldn’t get back the spirit of the old place, but it’s still Lundy’s. I’m not going to tell you it’s not good because there’s a violation.”