BROOKLYN — Another Williamsburg institution bites the dust.
Family run bar NitaNita, at 146 Wythe Ave., is shuttering this December after nine years in business due to a rent hike, according to Samantha DiStefano, who owns the bar with her mother Virginia Grunder.
“This is not a story we haven’t heard,” DiStefano said. “[The businesses] who are still surviving, chances are they have a landlord who lives in the neighborhood.”
The bar's 10-year lease is set to expire in January, and the landlord gave them the option to extend the lease at market rate, which amounts to three times more than what they're currently paying, or in the neighborhood of $20,000 per month, DiStefano said.
She approached the landlord, Flatiron Williamsburg Property Group, and tried for several months to find a compromise but she “couldn’t come anywhere close to what they want.”
“NitaNita was a valued tenant who decided not to exercise their fair market rent option coming up next year,” says Steven Ancona, secretary at Flatiron Williamsburg Property Group. “The Williamsburg market obviously changed a lot since they opened and we of course have no control over it.”
The company will seek to increase the size of the corner location once the bar moves out, Arcona said, though she would not elaborate further on the plans.
For their last night on Dec. 5, the bar will be holding a Bon Voyage party with a “yacht-rock” theme, including upbeat, "happy" music and an emphasis on moving on, "not death," DiStefano said.
DiStefano said she plans to open up something new soon with "elements" of NitaNita, including its cherry wood and custom metal work, but she was hesitant to disclose further details.
“It won’t be in Williamsburg for sure because we are priced out of that neighborhood,” said DiStefano. Although she is not sure if it will be under the same name, she hopes the bar will land nearby and is in talks with some specific locations.
Loyal customers took to social media to mourn the loss, including one Brooklyn filmmaker, Terrence Bernardo, who remembered meeting his wife at the bar.
After the announcement, DiStefano was struck by the public’s outpouring, saying that it was “unbelievable.”
“Small business is what makes a community,” said DiStefano, when discussing the rapid development of Williamsburg. “Those kinds of places are going to disappear.”