Elmhurst Dairy in Jamaica, Queens, the last remaining milk bottling plant in New York City, will close on October 30th after more than 80 years in business. The shutdown was announced Tuesday, and will put 273 factory employees out of work.

Henry Schwartz, the company's 82-year-old owner, stated this week that the family-run business—its red barn logo and brightly colored cartons are a common sight in many NYC delis—had remained open "long past the years that it was economically viable."

"The family did so at a very high cost but is unable to continue to do so without ongoing losses," he added.

The company started small, on Schwartz's father's farm on Caldwell Avenue in Elmhurst. Schwartz told the NY Times this week that his family moved to Jamaica during the Great Depression, and the operation grew, served by an uncle's 200-cow dairy farm in nearby Middle Village.

The current location opened in 1940. At its peak, the plant produced more than 5.6 million quarts of milk a week, according to the company. But sales took a dip in the late 1980s when New York State deregulated milk sales, prompting competing companies to drive down their prices. Schwartz poured $14 million into the plant when the company got a distribution deal with NYC Starbucks locations in 2003, but that deal ended in 2011.

Still, Elmhurst maintained large-scale distribution in recent years, especially in mini-cartons for NYC public schools. ("[We] give our school kids a nutritious lunch time drink option," the company writes on its website.) Strategic Resource Group, a consumer-industry consultant, told the NY Times that Elmhurst's closure could drive up milk prices across the city, maybe as much as a nickle per quart.

Dairy plant workers will be phased out gradually over the next 90 days, according to the company. Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 553, told us on Wednesday that he got the news from the company Monday, and passed it along to the workers yesterday. He says he's demanding that the company negotiate with the workers for a severance package, and possibly an extension of benefits past their termination date. The plant workers recently negotiated a raise that brought their hourly pay from $10 per hour, to just shy of $15.

"Things were going good," he said. "It's just the nature of the industry. The truth of the matter is, people don't drink milk the way they used to. People drink soy milk or almond milk and they're just not eating as much cereal as they used to in the morning."

Schwartz hasn't confirmed what's next for the Elmhurst Dairy plant, located on a 15-acre lot at 155-25 Styler Road, but says that he plans to continue to support local jobs on the site. He floated the possibility of a hotel or "entertainment complex" to the NY Times.

"The mood is somber," Marshall Wilson, a father of five who's worked at the plant for 10 years, told the Post. "We’re trying to figure out our next move. It's going to be a struggle until I find another job. I’m thinking of just moving to North Carolina."