UPPER WEST SIDE — Treasured neighborhood eatery Nick & Toni’s Café has been forced to close due to the rising cost of doing business in Manhattan, its owner said.
Owner Mark Smith, 62, said he had to shutter the 23-year-old Italian and Mediterranean restaurant at 100 W. 67th St. for good on Saturday after he couldn't come to a rent agreement with his landlord.
“We’re closing because it's just become financially unviable to be an independent in Manhattan with rents, the costs of labor,” Smith said.
Smith would not say how much his landlord had planned to increase his rent. His landlord did not immediately respond to request for comment.
“The sad thing is, it’s just really impossible to operate a small business in a neighborhood which desperately needs that sort of neighborhood place. People love the fact that we’re here.”
Some people took to social medial to lament the loss of beloved local haunts. The Upper East Side's China Fun restaurant closed suddenly on New Years Day too, only leaving a note behind in its window.
GOODBYE CHINA FUN AND NICK & TONI'S I WILL MISS U MORE THAN ANYTHING #nyc— victoria lobue (@victorialobue) January 5, 2017
Smith said he is keeping his four other Hamptons-based restaurants open and does not have any plans to reopen Nick & Toni’s in the city.
“It’s virtually impossible to open in Manhattan,” Smith said. “Take a walk up Columbus north from 67th — you’ll just see ‘for sale,’ ‘for rent’ sign after ‘for rent’ sign.”
He said the rising rents were not only affecting small business owners but the many people they employ.
"When landlords raise rent to a point businesses have to move, it not only affects the neighborhood," Smith said. "It’s affecting 25 people that I employed. What are they going to do? Where are they going to go?"