May 25, 2016 By Christian Murray
A popular Court Square eatery will be closing for good this weekend after being in operation for 18 years.
Leslie Nilsson, the well-known owner of Sage General Store, said she is closing up after being unable to renew her lease at her 24-20 Jackson Ave. location. Her last day is this Sunday, May 29, and she said she will be having a “blow-out farewell” between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“Thank you for 18 years of loyal support!” she wrote in an e-mail to her friends yesterday.
Nilsson was an early pioneer to the Court Square district when she opened in the late 1990s, when that stretch of Jackson Avenue was still home to several empty old buildings.
She established her business in 1997 under the name Sage American Kitchen and opened the next year at 26-21 Jackson Ave. It was a quaint three-seat take-out shop at the time.
The building was later acquired by Rockrose and she moved a few blocks to her current location.
At her initial location, she built a reputation for offering farm-to-table, locally sourced food. She built her catering business out of the kitchenette and also used the space for baking. She had an office and an employee living in the building.
“At the time, I would see prostitutes on Purves Street lifting up their skirts in broad daylight,” Nilsson said, recalling what the area was like when she opened. “When we were baking the rats could smell the food and there would be giant ones looking in trying to get into the building.”
Nilsson said business was tough at the time. She said that Silvercup Studios played a big part in keeping her business alive when HBO’s “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos” brought a hungry cast and crew. There were also many Citibank loyals.
In 2008, Nilsson moved across the street to her current space where there was more seating and a more extensive menu. She changed the name with the help of her late husband to Sage General Store since it sold artisanal products such as honey and folk art.
The new location also provided her with additional space to expand her catering business, called Bartleby & Sage, which she plans to continue. She plans on finding new space, with an expansive kitchen, for that company.
Nilsson, who lives in Hunters Point with her daughter, said it’s important to close her eatery on a positive note.
“I am still going to be around but my focus will be on the catering business,” she said.