Patsy's Pizzeria is $150K in Debt for Water Bills

By Jeff Mays on September 7, 2011 6:42am 

Patsy's Pizzeria is located at at 2287 First Ave., between 118th and 119th streets.
Patsy's Pizzeria is located at at 2287 First Ave., between 118th and 119th streets.
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Harlem Bespoke

EAST HARLEM — That's a lot of dough.

The owner of Patsy's Pizzeria is in the process of paying back $150,000 in outstanding debt to the city after a lien was placed on the property because of unpaid water bills, officials said.

Owen Stone, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the property at 2287 First Ave., between 118th and 119th streets, landed on the city's list of eligible tax lien sales as of July 1. Stone did not immediately say over how many years Patsy's racked up the debt.

I.O.B. Realty recently entered into a payment agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection to pay off the lien, Stone said. Patsy's owner Frank Brija is listed as a principal of I.O.B. Realty, according to court documents.

Brija told sources that he did not receive notices from the city that he owed the money, according to those familiar with the situation. Once he received the notice, Brija went to the auction and attempted to retrieve the property.

"I've lost my building," a source quoted Brija as saying before the payment agreement was reached.

Reached by phone, Brija told DNAinfo that the pizzeria was not in danger of closing and in fact was expanding.

"We are going national. We are going to be a subsidiary of Coca-Cola," he said.

When asked about the status of the building and the tax lien, Brija said: "Oh, never mind," and hung up the phone.

The pizzeria was founded in 1933 by Pasquale (Patsy) Lanceri, who claimed credit for beginning to sell pizza by the slice. Brija purchased the restaurant from Lanceri's widow in 1991.

The pizzeria has been in a long-running battle with Patsy's Italian Restaurant in Midtown about the use of the name Patsy's to describe both establishments. A federal appeals court ruled last month that neither could lay claim to the name.

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