By Claudie Benjamin

The Sabrina‘s two marble lobbies, one very large at 240 West 98th Street, the other much smaller at 241 West 97th Street, provide a very lovely setting for holiday decor. Every year Christmas trees grace each of the lobbies. They are hung with ornaments and lights. Wrapped presents are arranged under the trees, wreaths are placed on the walls and Christmas music is played softly.

All these essential parts of the scene are orchestrated by longtime superintendent Andrew Sak. Every year he goes out with several porters to Broadway to select two beautiful trees 6′ in height or a bit taller. The group carries them back to the building and installs them in the entries. The Sabrina‘s morning staff takes turns hanging the ornaments on the tree, said Joey Muniz, who has worked as a doorman at the Sabrina since 1993.

A gracious, elegant marble lobby (or two) is certainly something to be appreciated, but what seems to be particularly distinctive for residents at The Sabrina, is the friendliness and helpfulness of the building’s staff.

Not only does realtor Rachel Gavreli, who represents the building, point this out, but so do condo owners, one of whom posted on the building’s website, “Wonderful friendly staff and beautiful well-maintained building. A joy to live here.” What does it take to make tenants happy in a luxury condo week after week? A passion for customer service is the key judging by the way Joey, who is the Sabrina staff member, talks about his job.

“Customer service!” Joey said this is what it’s all about. He noted in more detail, “Helping in any way I can to make sure tenants, guests, and others in the building have what they need.”  The two buildings that comprise The Sabrina originally contained 172 apartments. Today, there are fewer because some have been combined as duplexes and as connected side-by-side units.

In the role of the doorman, among many other tasks, he takes and receives messages and deliveries, greets residents and their guests, and generally looks out for their well-being. Occasionally, he has had to ask a homeless person who has tried to enter the building to leave “but I’ve never had to use force.” He is a member of Union 32BJ.

Joey is about as Upper West Side as you can get.  He grew up at the Frederick Douglas Housing complex between West 100-104th Streets and Columbus Avenue. After completing 8th grade at the Ascension School on West 108th Street, he would subway it downtown to Norman Thomas High School at 33rd Street and Park Avenue. Joey’s father, Jose, was working as a doorman at The Sabrina, and his son took on what he thought was just a summer job as a doorman. Life happened, and Joey continued to work at the building with his father. Originally, they both wore navy blue uniforms with a yellow stripe down the trousers on the jacket cuffs and collar. More recently, Joey said there’s been an upscale change to a gray suit with a black stripe. Joey enjoyed working with his dad. “We got to know each other in a new way.” Jose retired after 20 years at The Sabrina in 2000.

During the next decade, his health declined severely. Over time, he had multiple strokes and lost his sight. His wife, Joey’s Mom, had passed away, and he was fortunate Joey was such a devoted son. Joey counts it as a blessing that he worked so near his father’s home, allowing him to get to the apartment at 5 pm when his father’s caregiver left for the day. Caring for his Dad for his last five years was almost all-consuming. Even today, a year after his Dad passed, Joey is still adjusting to having free time. Today, he lives in the same apartment where he grew up. He’s come to know many of the supers, porters, handiness, and other doormen on the block. A big source of enjoyment is going to the movies with his daughter, who lives with her mother on West 90th Street. “My whole life is on the Upper West Side,” he said.

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