Vesuvio is for sale, Eater reports. And it's not the first time in the past 5 years. In 2003 Anthony Dapolito, after more than two generations, sold the place to his neighbors the Gigante sisters-in-law. They all grew up together and the Gigantes promised to uphold the Vesuvio tradition.
Downtown Express reported: "Dapolito, 83, worked as a boy in the bakery on Prince St., decades before the neighborhood came to be known as Soho. His father and mother, Nunzio and Jennie, immigrants from Naples, opened it in 1920 and Tony went on to own it after they died."
Only months after selling the business, already in poor health, Mr. Dapolito died. On the passing of the man that Ed Koch called "the heart and soul of the Village," the bakery was bedecked with flowers. Vesuvio then went through a months-long renovation and reopened as a cafe.
Not everyone was happy with the new smells of sandwich-making. One neighbor started a petition to stop the "stink," saying, "The smells in question are of mostly grilled chicken, onions, basalmic [sic] vinegar and garlic." But such complaints probably had nothing to do with the closure of Vesuvio for another renovation in the summer of 2008.
Or did they? This anonymous Lost City commenter has more info on the feud behind the scenes.
Locals and fans around the globe went nuts when the bakery didn't reopen in timely fashion and, by the fall, they had covered the sign on the door with begging and pleading messages. Some weird shoe display turned up in the window recently, and now Eater reports a craigslist ad that indicates Vesuvio is for sale once again--as a "cafe or retail shop." Maybe Mr. Dapolito didn't like those sandwiches either, and put the malocchio on the place.
But unless another friend of the family turns up, or a Vesuvio fan who values the history of the place takes pity on the old bakery (the rent is pretty cheap!), I fear we may see this icon vanish, just as Zito's vanished. Be afraid.
All my Vesuvio pictures from November 2007