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Biscotti Bakery Closing After Rent Hike, 'Mall-ization of Manhattan'

 The husband-and-wife owners, Antone and Holly DeSantis, will still sell biscotti online.
The husband-and-wife owners, Antone and Holly DeSantis, will still sell biscotti online.
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DNAinfo/Rosa Goldensohn

HELL’S KITCHEN — Patrons at Tenth Avenue’s Bis.co.latte will dunk their last biscotti July 31, when the bakery-café closes after eight years in the neighborhood.

Husband-and-wife team Holly and Antone DeSantis decided to close after their landlord proposed a more than 35 percent rent hike, they told DNAinfo New York. Their lease ran out in April, and building owner Nick Drivas wanted $7,500 a month for the 650-square-foot space, up from $5,500, they said.

Drivas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The rent hike was the final blow to a business already struggling, according to the owners.

“What happened is the neighborhood also changed, and not necessarily for the better,” Holly DeSantis said.

New high-end coffee chains such as Fika and Blue Bottle popping up on the far West Side also disrupted business, Antone said.

Gotham Market and all these food courts are just hurting independent restaurants,” Antone said. “All of these guys are feeling it. It’s a mall mentality, it’s the total mall-ization of Manhattan. We lost customers to them.”

The couple opened up Bis.co.latte in 2007 around the corner from their apartment on West 46th Street. Holly, a former caterer, baked daily to keep the store stocked with at least 25 flavors of biscotti, from rose to green tea and spearmint to cotton candy. The biscotti cost $1.25 each.  

“Every year, it got a little better,” she said of the first few years of business. But the last few years were mostly flat, she said, and old customers moved away.

“The people that are moving into the neighborhood are not necessarily people who are supporting their neighborhood,” she said. “You know like the all those big buildings that are coming up, you know like whether they’re going to Blue Bottle or not, they’re ordering on Seamless and they’re going out for $3,000 dinners, you know what I mean, to Per Se. They’re not supporting a local community place.”

“Somebody came in here and started talking about that we should do a Kickstarter,” she added. “You know, and I said, 'Kickstarter? All you gotta do is buy a cup of coffee.' ”

On Monday, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison played while Holly baked pistachio chocolate biscotti and Antone served customers.

The DeSantis team runs a tight café ship, they conceded, putting off some customers: no WiFi, no paper cups inside, seating only for customers getting table service.

“We’ve lost customers because people say, ‘You have too many rules,’” Antone said.

“There’s only so much you can do and please everyone, and I guess our concept doesn’t work in this day and age,” Antone added.