By Sabina Mollot
Mariella Pizza, which had slung slices for 37 years on Third Avenue before closing in January due to a gas issue, has gone for good.
On Monday, April 4, the pizzeria held a public auction to clear out its equipment before closing its doors once again.
One of the owners, who introduced himself as Tony but didn’t want his last name mentioned, said he would have stayed had he been offered a “fair lease,” but also indicated there were other factors like a vent that wasn’t up to building code, which he said the landlord had concerns about. However, on the latter issue, Tony said he couldn’t have it fixed. “If it was something simple, we would have addressed it,” he said.
Tony isn’t currently planning to reopen Mariella’s at another location.
“If we could find a good spot that’s affordable in the area, we might,” Tony said. “We had a very good following. The community wants us to be here.”
As T&V reported last week, Con Ed said the gas was shut off in the building on January 24 because of an odor, but the utility was able to turn it back on by February 22. While the gas was eventually switched back on, the restaurant never reopened.
Tony explained that while the owners hadn’t planned to close due to the gas issue, they faced an uphill battle after five weeks of closure, because his employees moved on and he lost a significant amount of inventory.
He went on to say he’s noticed that businesses “everywhere,” but in particular First Avenue have been getting displaced. “People are going out,” said Tony. “It’s very difficult for the little guys.
“It’s a sad thing,” he added. “It’s a very emotional day. We never thought we’d go out of business. But things happen.”
He declined to name the landlord, but data from the website of the Department of Housing Preservation and the Development linked the address, 180 Third Avenue, which is at the corner of East 16th Street, to an address for residential apartments at the same property, 145 East 16th Street. That property is listed as being owned by Allan and Jane Goldman of Solil Management. A call to that company was forwarded to a person who manages the commercial spaces, who didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, outside the pizza shop on Monday morning, one man walking by, upon noticing the “Public auction sign,’ declared, “It’s a tragedy.” He then snapped a photo before moving on. A couple of other passersby also stopped briefly in the rain in disbelief.
Elsewhere on the block, a small Mexican restaurant across the street called La Paloma sported a “for rent” sign. Up the block at the corner of East 16th Street, the space that was last home to Met Food supermarket, which closed a year ago, was still vacant, while a space next store has recently become an urgent care center run by North Shore LIJ.