Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rocky's Italian

VANISHING

A reader called Rocky's Regular passed along word that Rocky's Italian Restaurant, on Mulberry and Spring, will soon be shutting its doors after more than 30 years in business.

The Regular says, "I was talking to Emma the owner about it, and my heart breaks for her. This restaurant is her life. She is a real New Yorker--a hard-working chick from the Bronx and such a part of the neighborhood."



The owner shares the news on Rocky's Facebook page:

"Rocky's Italian Restaurant ...first opened it's doors in the 70's and has been family owned and operated since myself (Emma) and Family took it over in 1994.....through the years we have welcomed friends, family, locals and tourist who come to Little Italy to enjoy a real authentic homestyle Italian meal....our dining room has become yours.

We look forward to continuing welcoming you to what we call home...but sadly we are forced to close our doors after many months of negotiations our landlord decided not to give us our renewal. He choose to give it to our neighbor Balaboosta Restaurant who is new to our neighborhood just about a year. So it is with deep regret that we will be shutting our doors the end of 2011."


Rocky's interior

Says Rocky's Regular, "It's the story of the old-school Italian joint vs. the foodie new kid on the block who gets all the attention in the press but doesn't have any soul."


*Update:
Eater talked to the owner of Balaboosta, who told them, "she will open a second location of her super successful falafel joint Taim in the location. And she wants to make it very clear, both to the people in the neighborhood and the restaurant world nostalgists, that this was not a standoff between her business and Rocky's. She was not the one to push them out."

19 comments:

JAZ said...

Ugh - I love Rocky's. We just took a co-worker there a few weeks ago for her birthday.

I guess it is fitting in this day and age in NYC that a Bronx native that built up a small business which was sustained for 30 years is getting run out of town - after all, these days that resume just means one thing: that this city is not for you anymore. My heart goes out to Emma and all the rest of them that proved that at one point in time in NYC, hard work and dedication to your passion meant more than anything. A lesson sure to be lost on future generations.

One piece of good news again re: Coney Island via a story in the Post this morning: the Parks Department plan to pave the boardwalk with cement was shot down by the city Design Commission, thanks to pressure from Friends of the Boardwalk's grassroots campaign. The Design Commission, echoing talking points of the Friends of the Boardwalk, are also now questioning why the Parks Dept can't use synthetic or domestic wood instead of paving it. 2 pieces of good news out of Coney Island in 2 weeks - someone pinch me.

Bowery Boogie said...

Let's see what happens in a year or so. So many of these new foodie establishments fold in two years...

And then it's all for naught.

kim said...

This is Einat's defense

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/10/landlord_gives_30_yearold_rockys_space_to_taim.php#more

I still think it's more of the landowner's greed than Einat's, so I do think it's unfair to place all the guilts on her. It's a dog eat dog world out there, but Rocky is a fighter and will find a way to resurrect.

Katrink said...

Gotta love the names of the nanny and her whining spawn. Almost sounds like a parody.

Lindsay said...

This is so awful!!!

maximum bob said...

You really think Bababooey will be around for thirty years? Ha, I give it two years, max.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks. i added the Eater link and the info.

Jeremiah Moss said...

it's very depressing that authentic, old-school places can't survive in Manhattan anymore. every day there are fewer and fewer places i can afford to eat at--and actually want to eat at.

Anonymous said...

What's frustrating is Rocky's was doing fine. They weren't hurting for business at all. There is no reason for them to have to leave this location except that they were forced out. That's what makes it even sadder. It's crazy how you can do everything a landlord wants, even agree to higher rent and still get kicked to the curb. Businesses don't have the protections apartment renters have.

kim said...

Rocky's also commented on the Eater thread. If what she said is the truth, then we're in a sad situation where we do not value history and community anymore.

Anonymous said...

Horrible. I come from that neighborhood and have been to Rocky's numerous times. Balaboosta rents the restaurant next door, so common sense, of course they took part in pushing Rocky's out. All you can say is what comes around goes around. Every old neighborhood restaurant that gets pushed out of Little Italy is just another piece of its soul gone. I wish these people that own these foodie restaurants came from that neighborhood and realized how important a place like Rocky's is to it. Shame on Balaboosta and shame on the Landlord.

randall said...

I love balaboosta took the comments down off of their site. It was getting hot on there earlier in the day.

randall said...

ooops. supposed to read, "I love how..." I do not love Balboosta.

Anonymous said...

Rocky's is a great place, maybe the only place I had a good Italian meal in Little Italy/Nolita- I went there because a friend came from out of town and wanted to try something in Little Italy and I had bad experiences before at those tourist dives. As for the new place to take its place, F them.

Anonymous said...

Another blogger on Rocky's sad situation:

http://www.blackdresstraveler.com/2011/10/a-taste-of-littly-italy-rockys-on-mulberry-.html

JAZ said...

Please make sure everyone you know does their best to boycott these places. If you are in Little Italy, a great place is Florio's on Grand & Mulberry; delicious Italian food, music, and can sit outside and enjoy a cigar while having your meal, or just a few Peroni's. One of my 2 or 3 favorite places in the city, and a real deal taste of old school Little Italy - not an artisanal, hip pseudo re-creation.

Anonymous said...

I have been a loyal customers of Rocky's for many years ...kinda my home away from home...sad to see this happening. I know first hand the circumstances concerning the landlord not renewing there lease...shouldn't be this way! What is it they say...don't fix what isn't broken...I like the rest of my neighbors welcome change to the neighborhood...but we frown on those who try and take away the charm of what Little Italy is really about....namely Rocky's!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair to put the blame on Balaboosta. The landlord decided that he no longer wanted to renew the lease for Rocky's and had placed the property on the market for quite some time already. There would have been a new establishment on that corner regardless. I think people are getting a little too dramatic by pointing fingers and going on a witch hunt.

As for Rocky's, I live in the neighborhood and walk by this restaurant everyday. I have NEVER seen it filled with people before. So it's hard for me to believe that this place is treasured as much as people are letting on. And why is everyone so protective of a place that imposes a 20% gratuity on ALL checks regardless of the size of your party? On top of that, they plastered a sign on the front door stating that the restrooms are only for customer use (which is fine) but also added that everyone else would be charged a $10 fee. Does this sound like an establishment that cares about service? And if every person who commented on this thread about how awesome Rocky's is, actually ate at the restaurant, I would think the place would be packed.

And attacking Eater too? Just because they were smart enough to put a different spin (i.e. bothering to showing two sides of a story), they've been condemned? For crying out loud people, stop being so quick to persecute ANYONE who opposes your opinion. They were the only ones who even featured Balaboosta's side instead of simply victimizing poor old Rocky's.

There is a woman in this neighborhood who has lived here for 62 years. I asked her how she felt about all the changes that Nolita has undergone and she said, "Oh sweetheart, things will always change around us. You have to expect it. Otherwise, you'll be depressed all the time." Wisdom. She is 90 years old and lives on the top floor of a walk-up building with no elevator. If she's come to terms with all the changes she has witnessed over the past 62 years, then I think everyone else can stop getting their panties in a bunch. Be at peace like this old lady and maybe you'll live to be 90 someday.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to comment get your facts straight before doing so. Had it not been for Balboosta's interest in the space. There was not going to be another establishment here. We were getting a renewal...as for your walking by daily and our restaurant always being empty...we have been here successfully for the passed 17 years. Also in regards to gratuity being added to our checks it is in fact 18% and no different than every other restaurant in New York practices ...as for the sign posted Restrooms for Customers only....that is in fact perfectly legal. Our restrooms as with any other establishment are an accommodation for our customers.they are not a public toilet...if that were the case then perhaps we should let anyone use our toilets in our homes as well. In regards to the note of a charge to use the restroom. That was posted many years ago to deter people from asking to use the restroom. No one was ever charged. Since you felt the need to defend the new tenant...please get your facts right. As far as Rocky's being treasured...yes it was and always will be..by myself and my family who put our heart and soul into it for the pass 17 years...and the locals and tourist...throughout these years that return day after day and week after week and year after year to what we, as well as they have called home. I know just as well about change..I am born and raised on Mulberry Street and wholeheartedly agree that change is good. I also know that to take a sucessful established business and force it to shut its doors...for the reasons being...personal prejudice ...and pure greed!