PIX11 Gentrification pushes out longtime pizza places in Manhattan by Jay Dow

Gentrification pushes out longtime pizza places in Manhattan
Jay Dow

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — Giuseppi Notaro knows his way around a great slice at his Italian Village Pizzeria on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

And since he owns the building, Notaro has clearly been around the block when it comes to real estate. But this business is sadly closing down for good in two weeks and Notaro is selling the entire building.

Notaro will join other property owners First Avenue who have also permanently shut their doors and sold their buildings to a developer.

The business closures are like a virus spreading across the Upper East and West Side…

It's a story become all too familiar.

The Upper West Side's “Caesar’s Palace Pizza” is also closing for good after 36 years in business. Owner Dimitri “Jimmy” Vezrakis says his building’s management company - Vifast Realty wanted to double his rent, forcing him to shut down.

“With the help of my customers, I lived a beautiful, great American dream," said Vezrakis. "I have three beautiful children."

But Vifast Realty’s lawyer says Vezrakis voluntarily vacated the building after his lease ended.

“It was exceedingly cut and dry," the lawyer said. "Unfortunately, Caesar's is now leveraging a sad story that has nothing to do with its particular business and using it to justify its current circumstance and promote its new venture.”

Back on the Upper East Side, City Councilman Ben Kallos says the cost of a neighborhood’s transformation is a loss of character.

“Small businesses are being forced out, and that’s making New York City a little less unique,” said Kallos.

For Notaro, who’s closing down this month, it’s simply a matter of a good thing coming to an end.

“I spent my life in here,” said Notaro.