Vanishing New York reports today that Rocky's Italian Restaurant, a 30 year-old red sauce joint in the heart of Little Italy, will close at the end of the year after failed lease negotiations with its landlord. And a note Rocky's owner put on their Facebook page explains that the owners of relatively new Middle Eastern joint Balaboosta will soon move into their space. They write, "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...So it is with deep regret that we will be shutting our doors the end of 2011." They hope to relocate and reopen sometime in 2012.
As for Balaboosta's plans, there will not be an expansion. Owner Einat Admony tells Eater 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.
She tells Eater, "I didn't want it to be between me and her, because she's been there for so many years. Their lease was finished in August, the other bidders wanted it immediately. The landlord had tons of offers, the place was on the market for a year. And I said I could wait until January." And she adds that she's already upset about emails and comments she's received on her blog, noting, "It's really hurtful because people don't know us, and now people think we're greedy, but we're not like that. If we were greedy we would have expanded Taim to a chain and cashed out years ago. Taim is so successful and we've had so many offers. And we never open next to something like Hummus Place or Cafe Mogador," other successful Middle Eastern restaurants, "And I turned this decision over and over because you want to sleep at night. I totally get it. But it has nothing to do with us."
So to those mourning the loss of an old Italian classic, it is right to mourn. But don't take it out on the delicious, delicious falafel place moving in.
· Rocky's Italian [JVNY]
· Rocky's Italian Restaurant [Facebook]
· All Coverage of Balaboosta [~ENY~]