The oldest cheese shop in the United States is set to close after more than a century in business, following what the owner described as disagreements with the landlord coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in New York City.
Alleva Dairy, located in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood, was established in 1892.
“We have to close because I couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord and it was very tough — and also, the pandemic hurt us terribly,” owner Karen King told “Fox & Friends” this week.
“It was a struggle for the first two years,” King said, referencing the pandemic.
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“I tried to pay her,” she said, meaning the landlord. “And we tried to make a few deals. She wasn’t accepting anything, and then it was outrageous, what she did.”
The landlord said the store owed more than $600,000 in back rent, King noted.
Facing this, Alleva Dairy then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“I only filed Chapter 11 to maybe come to an agreement with her — that is why I filed it, to maybe push her to do something,” King said. “We tried, and we couldn’t.”
The COVID pandemic was “the worst experience of my life, and my people who work for me, and the tenants,” said King.
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“There was nobody in the streets. There was literally no one out,” she said, adding that her store and others like it in Little Italy rely on tourism to stay alive.
“I only closed maybe two months during the pandemic,” said King — who then pivoted her focus to feeding the community.
She brought on a chef in 2021 who would “make gourmet Italian food [for] reasonable prices,” she said.
“They could order from us, and we’d send everything out,” said King.
King and her husband purchased Alleva Dairy from the original owners in 2014. King said her husband was known as the “unofficial mayor of Little Italy.”
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“He was born and raised there; he loved that community. He was a real guy for the Italian culture and heritage,” she said.
King said there are plans to reopen Alleva Dairy at a new location.
“I’ve been looking around, I’ve been searching … and trying to find the right spot,” she said.
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“Alleva is the heart of Little Italy. It’s like an institution there. And the location is very important, only because we’re there 130 years,” said King.
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“But the quality of what we have to offer — we’re taking that with us,” she added.