While we are on the topic of the crumbling townhouses of Old Fulton Street yesterday, it appears that Grimaldi’s (19 Old Fulton Street) is also crumbling (so to speak) under back payments owed to the landlord. Apparently, the long lines at Grimaldi’s isn’t enough for restaurant owner Frank Ciolli to pay back rent of $44,000 to the landlord, Dorothy Waxman. So Ms. Waxman has served eviction papers. “The landlord will ask a state Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn to throw out her famous tenant”, according to the story in the Wall Street Journal. The article states that “Mr. Ciolli also has set aside money to pay August’s rent and $7,000 in attorney’s fees, and can pay the $38,000 for a security deposit, but Mrs. Waxman’s attorney has refused the money. “He’s trying to create a default,” Ciolli’s attorney Mr. Perrella said.”
Even if things end well this week for Mr. Ciolli, he’s lost his right to renew his lease, so the restaurant would likely leave the space next fall. Mr. Ciolli plans to open a pizzeria on Sixth Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan.
The 1,100-square-foot storefront on Old Fulton Street is part of the city’s pizza lore, in part, because it houses one of the city’s few coal-fired ovens. Patsy Grimaldi, who learned the art from a renowned pie-making uncle, opened the restaurant in 1990, retiring in 1998 and selling the Grimaldi’s name to Mr. Ciolli. The restaurant is one of the city’s top-rated pizzerias in Zagat’s annual survey and has been featured on food shows and in pizza tours.
The city, too, is owed money: nearly $12,250 in property taxes and business improvement district charges, according to the Finance Department. Mr. Ciolli was responsible for paying taxes and city fees under the lease, courts papers say.
With the consistent lines and the recent $2 surcharge for the privilege of picking up pizza (a local’s “special”), why Grimaldi’s cannot pay rent and property taxes are a mystery to us.
Grimaldi’s Pizza (grimaldis.com)
19 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201