LOWER EAST SIDE — A rent hike is forcing Fontana’s Bar, a popular neighborhood watering hole, to close in the next few months after a dozen years in business, said one of its owners.
“It’s been a sad couple of days but it is what it is,” said co-owner Holly Ferrari, who confirmed the news Thursday afternoon.
The bar and venue, located at 105 Eldridge St., is expected to close in March, towards the end of the month, Ferrari said.
The closure was first reported by the Lo-Down.
Rent increases had been putting a strain on the business, Ferrari said, making it harder for the owners to continue operating without substantially changing the bar or raising its prices even more.
“We don’t want to do $16 cocktails, that’s not us. We want cheap beer and decent-priced drinks and people from the neighborhood,” she said, explaining that the owners had already raised their prices “as high as we want to go.”
Ferrari declined to say how much the landlord had asked them to pay each month, but said it was “upwards of $30,000,” more than triple their rent when they first signed their lease more than a decade ago.
“He wants too much for the rent. We can’t pay it,” she said.
An official from the company managing the building, Aegean Management Inc., declined to comment, saying it had only recently started working with the building.
Ferrari said the response to the bar’s closure from patrons, staff and past performers was “very moving and overwhelming and sad.”
“There’s been a lot of tears already,” she said.
Ferrari said they plan to commemorate the bar’s 12-year run with a series of farewell events, including a show featuring bands that played at Fontana’s when it first opened.