Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pisacane Seafood

Reader Jean-Luc tells us that the Pisacane fish market on 1st Avenue between 52nd and 51st street is shutting its doors tomorrow--"A huge loss for the neighborhood and city."

Last summer, another reader told me this closure would be coming down the pike. The owners had listed the building for sale, at $6,800,000, to be "delivered vacant."

At the time, I went in for a visit. I was told they were not closing, and had another 10 years. This now seems not to be the case, though I have not confirmed it.

I was also told that the business is 160 years old--with 60 years in one location and 100 years in this one. Or maybe vice versa. In any case, the place has been around a long time.

What I hear from both readers is that the small business has been struggling with inflated property taxes and utility bills -- both of which can kill a mom and pop, even when they own the building.


Mark Seitelman said...

It's a shame to see a long established small business have to move.

There are few, free-standing, fish stores. Generally, fish is sold within a multi-product store, such as Fairway, Eli's, Whole Foods, etc.

I wish the Pisacane owners well, and I hope that they find a new location to serve the residents of Sutton Place.

Dorian's fish store on York Avenue and 83rd Street is still going strong!

Mark E. Seitelman

Ed said...

I have to admit that my first reaction to this article was "wow, I lived about nine blocks (one cross-town) from this place and never heard of it". I also make it a point to see what is around my neighborhood. It shows how circumscribed neighborhood boundaries can get in New York.

Scout said...

I was the former tenant (for 22 years) in this 4-story building that reported the sale last year.

The sale has nothing to do with taxes or water; the business is doing fine, and they own a wholesale arm in Queens that will continue.

The father who started the business and bought the building (where they had previously just been renters) in the mid 70's, died last year.

the sons discovered that the building that was bought for a mid-6-figure amount could be sold for millions now, and decided to cash in. Which is their right, as property owners.

There were 4 tenants in the building; 2 of us were bought out last fall, and I assume the other two held out for more, but have also accepted offers.

One tenant had been there since the late 60s, under the former owner. he was holding out for an enormous sum. I hope he got it.

David said...

I'm a vegetarian so I've never shopped here, but I live nearby and I've always enjoyed walking by (yes, even with the fish smell). We've got two D'Ags in the area, a Whole Foods, and a Food Emporium but now we'll have one less mom and pop shop for food.

Caleo said...

Good to know the real scoop from Scout. Can't understand why they felt they needed to lie about the reasons for closure.

JAZ said...

@Mark S.

Yes, Dorian's is fantastic, and the people who work there cannot be any nicer.

Anonymous said...

Here's another example of the owner of a "mom & pop" is cashing out for a huge profit - should they be excoriated as any other landlord who evicts a small business and residential tenants would be in this forum?

Or, as owner of the small business, do they get a pass - and if so, why do they?

Lets face it: its all about real estate values and maximizing returns - THAT is the only small business left in NYC, and only a fool would pass up the opportunity to flip their property for millions of dollars.

We're all frogs in warming water - time to jump outta the pot. Happy Memorial Day.

Anonymous said...

that's really dissappointing. not only for me selfishly, but also for some of the small restaurants in the area. the guy in there once told me the best stuff would all go quick to the people who worked at the restaurants so you had to get there early.

Unknown said...

From my understanding one of the salesman Mike there is trying to reopen the retail business in the neighborhood.I hope so because he always served me and other friends of mine the freshest fish in New York.

Scout said...

More on the ongoing soap opera - the remaining two tenants in the top (4th) floor apartments have not yet received any move-out compensation, and are still living in the (mostly abandoned) building.

They report that no one from the store informed them of the store's closing.

With no one on the ground, 2nd, or 3rd floors, this could prove potentially unsafe, I imagine.

Unknown said...

I just learned about the closure this morning and have been in a state of shock and sadness. I'm glad to learn more details via this post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Scout is mistaken about some of his facts and conclusions.

The family wanted desperately to continue the business but what follows are some the hurdles they had to contend with.

Scout should know from first hand experience that several tenants in the building, and there were less than 6 apartments rented, have not paid rent for decades. The building owner let it slide. Most likely because he was a nice guy and had a thriving fish market.

It is common knowledge that the business environment in NYC became hostile towards their industry. Taxes, water and electric cost, which the market uses a lot of, sky rocketed. There trucks were constantly ticketed when they unloaded fish into the market. Bloomberg health inspectors would fine them(and this is documented industry wide)for no reason. When they would ask the inspector "why?" there was typically no reason.

Despite having a fantastic fish market, their prices were much lower, for higher quality fish, than, for example, Whole Foods, Citerella, Agata and Valentina, to name a few. The lower prices were fueled by the family's desire to service the community as best as possible. Not everyone who bought there were living in River House and/or other expensive buildings. And they knew it. I was in the store once and a customer wanted to pay on his store credit (what stores give credit today without a credit card?) The cashier said "you owe us over $200 that is months past due." The man hurried out of the store. One of the brothers over head what was going on and ran out of the store after the man to give the guy fish. When he returned he said something like "we can't let him go hungry." Further, people in general, cook less at home and eat much less fresh fish.

The City, but mostly the people in that area, lost a great store.

Scout said...

Anonymous on July 13 6:38AM, unless he's one of the owners of the store - which seems unlikely based upon his story of seeing the deadbeat get free fish - is a very strange bird if he thinks he knows more about the building than I do. I lived there for 22 years, Anon. How much time did you spend there?

I also know that there were exactly 4 apartments; 3 of them had the same rent, and that rent was paid by everyone. One of the three tenants was late with the total amount for a few months while unemployed several years ago (not for decades), and no one "let it slide." It was paid in full. That tenant's apartment, by the way, had incredibly faulty and dangerous wiring, broken glass panes in the windows, and a collapsed ceiling and walls in the bathroom that took years to get repaired.

I've got no gripe against the family - I lived there for 22 years, was a low-demand renter, and I vacated (for a mutually agreed-upon settlement) when they asked me to. But I could afford to move on. The old man who had the cheapest apartment (because he once had a legal lease under the previous owner, since 1967) has less resources to enable him move somewhere that he can afford.

As far as the price of the fish, or the store's credit policy - I have no idea about that, and it has nothing to do with their relationship to the renters in the building.

Regarding your rather hyperbolic claim that "the family wanted desperately to continue the business," that also shows the limits of your knowledge, Anon - their major source of income is their wholesale business in Queens, which will continue in operation.

Again, I have no objection to their actions; the building is sagging precariously in the middle and should be torn down anyway. And it's their property to sell. But let's not make wild and untrue claims about what's really going on.

No one is all saint and no one is all sinner, and we do people a disservice by ignoring the bad or the good in them.

Anonymous said...

I do now about this business. First there is no Queens arm to this company. I would know having been the bookkeeper for over 35 years. I have no idea where this came from, just another misunderstanding on Scouts part. Yes there are only five apartments, four of which were rented, one of the rents amounted to under $90.00. The building never paid for itself. The water bill alone for a quarter sometimes reached as much as 10,000.00. and taxes were over 80,0000.00. The Board of Health made it a point to visit every 6 months, and found something wrong each time they came in, and fines were always set. If we tried to park a truck, we would get a ticket. We tried to keep the company going, but with the cost of fish, the number of restaurant who went out of business, and left us owed money, we just could not go on.
The business did not own the building, If passed into the hands of the wife, and she just could not see a way of keeping the building. I will ask scout this question,
If living in this building was such a problem, why did you stay 22 years?

Scout said...

Wow - one incoherent comment after another. Let's address them individually:

"First there is no Queens arm to this company."

I heard from the owners themselves that they own a wholesale fish supplier in Queens.

"Yes there are only five apartments..."

No, there are only four apartments. There was also an office for the store and the store itself. I don't know where you came up with the number five.

" of the rents amounted to under $90.00."

That may be true - one tenant was rent-controlled from 1967. But that number has nothing to do with anything being discussed. It was just a legal number.

"The water bill alone for a quarter sometimes reached as much as 10,000.00. and taxes were over 80,0000.00."

Yes, these are expenses every building owner pays in NYC; complaining about them is pointless.

"The Board of Health made it a point to visit every 6 months, and found something wrong each time they came in, and fines were always set."

Thank god NYC has a Board of Health to protect consumers.

"If we tried to park a truck, we would get a ticket."

Right - because everyone has to obey the same traffic laws. Owning a building doesn't give anyone a right to park illegally in front of it.

"The business did not own the building..."

The family owned the business, and the family owned the building. Why prevaricate about that?

"If living in this building was such a problem, why did you stay 22 years?"

Where did you get the idea that I ever said living in the building was a problem? Why would you make up things like that, instead of actually reading what I wrote? I've made it clear several times that I have no gripe with the family selling their property, and that I enjoyed living there, and I agreed to vacate when asked. I've been writing in a truthful and measured way; I don't need to resort to hyperbole and misinformation.

Elvira York said...

Good news!!!! The guys from Pisacane ( Mike, Frank and Joe) are going to open "Midtown Catch"! at the same area with the same quality, selection and service they did before! I just took a brochure from the old address and I was so happy to know!
the address will be 405 east 57th street!. so stay tuned! I was looking around in the media but they are not around yet so.. good news!!

Scout said...


By: Reid Wilson 6:00 am on September 2, 2015

Bed-Stuy-based CS Real Estate has filed applications for a 14-story, 13-unit mixed-use building at 940 First Avenue, in Midtown East, three blocks from the E, M or 6 subways caught on Lexington Avenue at 51st or 53rd Streets. The building will measure 17,450 square feet in total, and will feature 1,073 square feet of commercial-retail space on the first floor. Above, full-floor units will measure 1,210 square feet apiece, likely indicative of condos. Karl Fischer is the architect of record, and an old four-story tenement must first be demolished.


There is NO fish market at 405 E. 57th St.

Unknown said...

It is opening in about 2 weeks. Finally!!!

Unknown said...

They are finally open.I have been there everyday since their first day and I must say the quality and decor was well worth the wait!!!