Admin/ 15 апреля, 2021

Eliseevsky grocery store

The legendary Eliseevsky grocery store on Tverskaya Street in Moscow stops operating in the year of its 120th anniversary. Because of coronavirus year tourists disappeared from the center of Moscow, and many companies could not stand the pandemic.

The future of Eliseevsky looks very vague so far. Retail chains don’t want to work there for a number of reasons. For example, expensive maintenance and lack of parking. In addition, this is a cultural heritage site, and you have to follow special requirements for maintenance and repair.


In the back of the main hall of Eliseevsky grocery store you can find a portrait of a gray-haired man. This is Grigory Grigorievich Eliseev — a famous Russian businessman and the founder of the store. The ancestors of Grigory Eliseev were peasants in the Yaroslavl province. At the beginning of the 19th century, his grandfather Pyotr Eliseev, moved to St. Petersburg and opened a shop on Nevsky Prospekt. People could find here such goods as rum, coffee, tea, spices and other products from European countries. And in 1858, when the trade quickly went uphill, the sons of Peter Eliseev founded the Eliseev Brothers trading house.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Eliseevs’ shops were famous throughout St. Petersburg. Because they sold the best foreign wines, fresh raisins, figs and papaya fruits, which could be purchased even in winter. The fame of the Eliseev trading house also went beyond the borders of the Russian Empire. Merchants had their own trading sailboats, owned wine cellars in Portugal, France and Spain and received medals at international exhibitions for their wine collections.

In the 1890s, the entire business passed to Grigory Grigorievich Eliseev, the grandson of Pyotr Eliseev. Wishing to strengthen the status of the family firm as one of the most successful in the country, Eliseev decided to open stores in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Therefore, he choosed a mansion built in the Catherine’s era for the store, which once belonged to Princess Zinaida Volkonskaya. Eliseev carried out a thorough renovation in the dilapidated building. He did it in secret: the building was covered with dense scaffolding for more than a year. There were even rumors in Moscow that an Indian pagoda or a pagan temple will appear on Tverskaya.

The main product in the luxury store was still wine. By the way, the merchant had problems with the sale of wine. The laws of that time forbade the sale of wine near churches. But the distance from the main entrance of the store to the nearest temple was too small. As a result, Eliseev had to equip a separate entrance for selling wine in just one night.

However, the cost of setting up the store quickly paid off. Moscow and visiting aristocracy actively bought rare varieties of Swiss and French cheeses, oriental spices, Japanese and Ceylon teas, truffles, mushrooms and anchovies there. All this was not cheap, but one could buy it only here.

It was a self-service store, but quite specific. Instead of today’s grocery carts, the customer received an assistant who dragged bags and helped to choose the right product.

A well-functioning business stopped with a family drama. In the fall of 1914, the wife of Grigory Eliseev committed suicide after learning about her husband’s betrayal. After that, the merchant quarreled with his sons, who did not accept his new beloved and did not forgive him for not coming to his wife’s funeral.

The family drama reached its climax when Eliseev’s sons stole his young daughter from him. When he found her, she refused to return to her father. After that, the entrepreneur began to drink and almost abandoned the business of the company. After the October Revolution, all Eliseev’s shops were nationalized. He and his second wife left for France, where he lived until his death in 1949.


A new life for the store began in 1921. The shop got a new name “Gastronom No. 1”, but Muscovites, out of habit, continued to call it “Eliseevsky”. To revive the economy destroyed by the civil war, the Soviet authorities temporarily allowed private property and the use of market mechanisms. So trade began to boil again in Moscow and other cities.

By the end of the 1920s, private trade was illegal. But Eliseevsky became a kind of showcase of abundance, where one could buy, for example, fresh pineapples or caviar.
In 1942 the store turned into a closed distributor for Moscow officials. In 1944, a commercial section was opened in the store, where it was possible to purchase scarce goods for cash. But it did not last long — in the 1950s its manager was convicted under the article on so-called “unearned income”.

The heyday of “Gastronome No. 1” came in the 1970s, when Yuri Sokolov became the director of the store. In conditions of a general shortage of Brezhnev’s stagnation, constant queues and a shortage of quality products, Sokolov managed to create a real food paradise where you could buy any delicacy.

However, good food was available to ordinary citizens only in the framework of food orders, which were issued only on holidays several times a year. Also, personal acquaintance with Yuri Sokolov gave access to delicacies on a daily basis. “Gastronome No. 1” was the supply center of the Soviet bohemia, everyone came there for a deficit. People’s artists, writers, sculptors, painters came there.

In Moscow, there has always been a problem with the supply of good products. So everyone went there for good sausage, for balyk, for fresh fish. Representatives of the Soviet elite were very proud of their acquaintance with Yuri Sokolov. Because of the fact that he had a whole pile of business cards on his table, he was their king and god.

Yuri Sokolov’s career was developing brilliantly. In the early 1980s, everything indicated that after 20 years of work in the main food store of the capital, a decent pension awaits him, surrounded by friends from the Soviet bohemia.

However, in the fall of 1982, Sokolov was arrested by KGB officers. At his home, the police found bonds worth tens of thousands of rubles. In addition, one of the store’s employees admitted to the investigation that she had participated in Sokolov’s corruption schemes, thanks to which the store was always full with scarce goods.

As a result, Sokolov was sentenced to an unprecedentedly harsh sentence: the death penalty. Many of the circumstances of this case are still unknown to the general public, but there is a version that Sokolov was ruined by the very connections at the top, which he valued so much and which was now too dangerous to disclose. At the trial, the former director presented a notebook, which listed all of his shadow trading schemes and all their participants, but Sokolov was not allowed to read them.

In addition, the power in the country at that time was changing — the deceased Leonid Brezhnev was replaced by the ex-head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, who began to pursue a tough anti-corruption policy. At that time, there were many high-profile officials in the dock, employees of the Moscow Glavtorg, directors of shops and fruit and vegetable bases, but the case of Sokolov became one of the most notorious.

Sokolov was shot in 1984, and also stripped of all awards, including those received during the war. With his death, another era in the history of Eliseevsky ended, and perestroika gradually began in the country.


Finally, after the collapse of the USSR, the store returned to its historical name. In 1991, the members of the store’s labor collective got the company’s shares. At the same time, the historical building itself belonged to the city. So the management did not change, and the store worked by inertia.

In 2002, Yakov Yakubov, co-owner of several Moscow casinos, became the new owner of Eliseevsky. While the general director of the grocery store was on vacation, representatives of Yakubov came to the store and offered the employees to sell the shares. As a result, in just a few days, Yakubov’s structures received 90% of the shares for 650 thousand dollars.

In the early 2000s, there were fears that the new owner could completely rebuild the store or even open a casino there. However, the Moscow authorities took a clear and tough position on this matter and did not give permission for this. In 2003, the grocery store was closed for a large-scale reconstruction, and the interior of the times of Grigory Eliseev was restored there.

The Alye Parusa retailer (which went bankrupt in the year of the pandemic) became the operator of the store in 2005.

However, today a sign “Closed” hangs on the doors of the legendary store, and it is not known when it will be removed.

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