WEST VILLAGE — A longtime Bleecker Street business has shuttered for good.
Risotteria doled out gluten-free Italian food since it opened in 1999. But over the past three years, business dropped 17 percent, owner Joseph Pace said.
He was able to offset the loss for a while, but in January, business was off 50 percent, he said, and remained that way since.
"We hung on as long as we could," he said. "After 17 years, there just weren't enough folks coming in."
Pace said the closure wasn't due to a rent increase because the lease wasn't up yet, but he had no doubt it "would've probably doubled."
"It's not unheard of on Bleecker [Street] for rents to reach $400 per square foot," he said.
Pace was inside his restaurant on Thursday, with tables and chairs and bar mats piled outside, and various people coming and going, carting off cases of soda, breaking down equipment and clearing the space out.
He was attempting to sell or give away every piece of equipment and furniture he had accumulated in his 17-year run, including some hefty compressors to a dubious friend.
"What do you want to offer me for these?" Pace cajoled.
"My regards," his friend said.
Pace opened an Upper West Side location about a year ago, but it closed after about six months. (The owners of the Spotted Pig are reportedly planning to open a diner in the former uptown Risotteria space.)
But his experience in the Village had been special, Pace said. He described how, after he put a bench outside, elderly people leaving nearby Pompeii church would come sit and chat. He knew the local residents, and all the business owners on the block were friends, he said.
"We had a tremendous amount of support from the neighborhood, we always have," he said. "The Village is really unique, it's very social. It's a great neighborhood."
Asked if he might reopen elsewhere, Pace was emphatic.
"Reopen?" he asked. "Not in New York City. It's prohibitively expensive."