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Respected Restaurateur Tony May, Who Championed Italian Fine Dining in NYC, Dies at 84

Plus, a historic cheese shop in Little Italy is sued over alleged rent nonpayment — and more intel

Tony May and a guest smiling at the camera at the opening of his restaurant SD26 in Manhattan.
Tony May (L) and a guest at the opening of May’s restaurant SD26 in 2009.
Marc Dimov/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Tony May, a veteran restaurateur who dedicated much of his career to changing the shape of Italian fine dining in NYC, has died. According to the New York Times, the cause of death was gall bladder cancer. He was 84.

An Italian native who moved to NYC in 1963, May (whose birth name was Antonio Magliulo) worked at city institutions including Delmonico’s, the 21 Club, and the Rainbow Room, where he became the owner-operator until 1987. Afterwards, he opened several of his own Italian fine dining spots, including the acclaimed San Domenico, which received a three-star review in the Times six weeks after it opened. Decades later, May closed the restaurant due to a steep rent increase and reimagined it as SD26, which ran for six years.

May was also involved in founding multiple educational programs for Italian cooking, including the Italian Culinary Foundation, which helps develop Italian culinary programs in schools across the U.S. He and his daughter, Marisa May Metalli, were working on a new restaurant in Midtown at the time of his death, according to the Times. The space is still slated to open next year.

A historic cheese shop in Little Italy may be on the brink of closure

Alleva Dairy, a Little Italy fixture that calls itself the oldest cheese shop in America, is tussling with its landlord over rent nonpayment. The cheese shop, which was first established in 1892, allegedly owes $509,106 in back rent from the past few years, according to the New York Post. The landlord has sued Alleva and is angling for permission to evict the shop from the premises unless owner Karen King pays up. King offered to pay $250,000 immediately and pay off the rest over the duration of the lease, the Post reports, but the landlord rejected the proposal.

New York liquor stores are now allowed to stay open on Christmas Day

The allowance was included in New York’s new state budget which passed last week, according to the New York Post. It’s something of a compromise for liquor stores that have vocally opposed the return of takeout cocktails in New York, a provision that was also included in the budget.

French Vietnamese pastry pop-up Bánh by Lauren heads to Chelsea

Start plotting your line strategy out now: Perpetually sold-out pastry pop-up Bánh by Lauren is planning a one-day event on Saturday, April 16, with tea purveyor Anna Ye Tea, at Omai, a veteran Vietnamese restaurant in Chelsea. The event — which runs from 12 p.m. until everything is gone — is also one of the last chances to visit Omai, which is not planning to renew its lease at the end of April and will shut down after over 20 years in business.

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