April 14, 2021

Another One Bites the Dust


Another One Bites the Dust
The author at Yeliseyevsky's way back in 2004, far right. The shelves were aptly stocked then. Amanda Shirnina

Any business that was teetering on the edge of solvency before March 2020 has closed by now. Moscow's Yeliseyevsky Food Emporium on Tverskaya Street survived the flu pandemic of 1918 but not the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around, some legal issues are also plaguing the store.

Many former Moscow tourists visited what was, until April 11, 2021, one of the fanciest grocery stores in the world. It opened 120 years ago in 1901 but, during Soviet times, was a bourgeois anomaly where mostly foreigners and the well connected could purchase outrageously priced goods.

More recently, the tiny Yeliseyevsky catered to (nonexistent) tourists and could hardly compete with new "hypermarkets" like Lenta and O'Key (pronounced the way Russians think Okay is pronounced).

Apparently, the St. Petersburg Yeliseyevsky's – which is more like a lavish cafe and confectionary than a grocery store – is under different management today and is unconnected to the Moscow close, so you can still get your fix there.

Ironically, given that the Moscow store witnessed the entire Soviet period, the shelves have never been as bare as they have been for the past few weeks.

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