The New York Post is always good for a solid doomsday scenario, and in yesterday’s edition they dropped a story about how New York City’s iconic Little Italy neighborhood, once a 50-block expanse of markets, restaurants, offices and pizzerias, is currently on life support. “Rising rents and changing demographics have driven Little Italy to the verge of extinction,” writes reporter Kate Briquelet in her story.
The article is built around the story of Robert Ianniello Jr, owner of legendary Little Italy restaurant Umbertos Clam House. As reported, Ianniello’s new landlord recently increased his rent almost two-fold, to a staggering $34,000 a month. By our calculations, you would have to sell quite a few orders of veal chop Barolo and osso bucco to cover that. Because of this trend of rising rents, a reported eight businesses have closed already this year.
Rent increases are nothing new in New York, as the city has emerged from the economic downturn stronger than ever with record real estate deals being reported on Curbed on almost a daily basis.
As we reported earlier this year in our Wise Guys Guide To Eating In Little Italy, there are still a number of restaurants that harken back to the days of Crazy Joe Gallo. Places like Caffe Roma, Da Nico and Ferrara Bakery (home of the "Lobster Tail” — a flaky pastry filled with Bavarian cream) are still attracting crowds and seemingly turning profits, possibly the benefit of owning real estate rather than renting. But if the Post’s prediction comes true, we might be seeing more bank branches and chain restaurants moving in. An Olive Garden in Little Italy? Oh just stop that.
Little Italy Is On The Brink Of Extinction [New York Post]