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45-Year-Old LES Pizzeria Closing to Make Way for New Building, Owner Says

By Lisha Arino | November 23, 2015 5:22pm
 The longtime pizzeria is closing to make way for a new 6-story, mixed-use building, its owner said.
Vic's Pizza Closing after 45 Years on Essex Street
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LOWER EAST SIDE — Vic’s Pizza on Essex Street is closing next week after 45 years in business so the building’s owner can tear it down next year, the pizzeria’s owner said.

“It’s hard, the place has been here for so long. Some of the customers go back 40 years, [or] 30 [or] 25 [years],” said Victor Mendez, who has owned the pizza joint for the past nine years after working for the previous owner for more than 15 years.

Mendez, who grew up in the neighborhood, said he planned to close the pizzeria on Nov. 30 and sell as much kitchen equipment as he could before then.

“You come to know the people and it’s hard,” said 48-year-old Mendez as he prepped pizzas behind the counter.

His landlord, Interboro Realty Management, gave him until the end of the month to move out after informing him a few months ago that it wanted to demolish the low-rise building and construct a new one in its place, Mendez said.

Interboro did not immediately reply to requests for comment but it has applied for a permit to build a six-story mixed-use building, according to Department of Buildings records.

Mendez said he tried to move the pizzeria, but found that most available retail spaces were at least $5,000 per month, a major price jump from the $2,200 he was paying on Essex Street.

Competition is also stiff, especially from the number of dollar slice pizza joints in the neighborhood, said Mendez, who sells plain slices for $2.50.

“This is not a dollar material,” he said, gesturing towards blocks of unwrapped mozzarella cheese.

Customer Steve Hernandez, who has been going to Vic’s Pizza since he was about 9 years old, agreed, saying it was difficult to find a good slice in the neighborhood.

“It’s all about dollar slices now and those pizzas aren’t good, we all know that,” said the 36-year-old neighborhood resident.

“I’m going to have to probably buy my slice from those like dollar [pizza] stores stores because there’s no other [options]. Papa John’s [around the corner] is Papa John’s but it stinks. It sucks.”

Mendez said he plans to visit Disney World with his family before looking for a new job.

Vic’s Pizza will remain open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. until next Monday, Mendez said.