PARK SLOPE — Mexican restaurant El Pollito Mexicano is leaving the neighborhood and its founders are moving on to Sunset Park, one of the owners said Monday.
El Pollito will close out a 15-year run on Fifth Avenue with a margarita-filled party Oct. 9, co-owner Mario Subia said.
The restaurant first opened in 2001 under the name Los Pollitos II at Fifth Avenue and Douglass Street, then moved to its current location at 119 Fifth Ave. and Sterling Place in 2010.
Subia said the restaurant's landlord recently raised the rent, but that wasn't why he and partner Freddy Nacipucha decided to leave.
"The neighborhood has changed from what it was years ago to what it is now," Subia said. "The cost of living got pretty expensive. ... I think it's best to move on."
Subia said he remembered "crackheads and shoot-outs" when the restaurant first opened on Fifth Avenue. Now the commercial strip has fancy boutiques, including a shop nearby that sells only high-end olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Other longtime businesses are leaving the area, Subia noted, such as Station Diner on Fourth Avenue and Union Street and the Key Food grocery store across from El Pollito that's slated to be replaced with a residential and commercial development.
In Sunset Park, Nacipucha owns Maria's Bistro Mexican restaurant at 866 Fifth Ave. and 39th Street and Subia owns the bar around the corner, The Spot Bar, at 483 39th St. off Fifth Avenue.
Subia said Sunset Park seems promising, with the growth of Industry City and the arrival of shopping options such as Saks Off Fifth.
"It's going to be nice out there, so I might as well invest over there while I can," Subia said.
Retail rents along Fifth Avenue between Union and Ninth streets have dipped by 2 percent over the past year to an average of $79 per square foot, according to a report released in September by the Real Estate Board of New York.
Meanwhile retail rents on the neighborhood's other main commercial corridor, Seventh Avenue between Union and Ninth streets, rose 6 percent to $92 per square foot.
The highest retail rents in Brooklyn over the summer of 2016 were in Williamsburg on Bedford Avenue between Grand and North 12th Street, where the average space was $373 per square foot, according to the REBNY report.
Other recent Openings and Closings in the neighborhood include: