Aug. 22, 2017 By Christian Murray
The small business carnage that has been taking place on Vernon Boulevard appears to be mounting with Tutti Matti, formerly Testaccio, likely to have closed.
Tutti Matti, an Italian restaurant located at 47-30 Vernon Blvd., notes on its Facebook page that it has permanently closed. Yelpers report it closed and one source close to the restaurant said that employees have been let go and calls to the restaurant went unanswered. However, on its door there is a sign that reads “temporarily closed…we miss you!”
The apparent closure of Tutti Matti comes months after the owner’s deal to sell the restaurant to new proprietors—who planned to put in a sports bar—fell through.
Several other restaurants located on Vernon Blvd have closed in recent times. In the past year, Alobar, Masso, Juniors, San Remo are among those establishments to have shuttered.
Many restaurant owners cite climbing rents for why they have departed. When Junior’s closed in April after being at 46-18 Vernon Blvd for about 20 years, owner Junior DiCaprio, said: “The landlord put the rent up on me and we couldn’t afford to stay.”
Brian Porter, the owner of LIC Bar and Gantry LIC, said part of the reason for the closures is that some business owners are being asked to pay high rents. However, he also noted that the number of restaurants that have opened in recent times seems to have outpaced the influx of residents to the area. “Too many restaurants have come into the neighborhood too soon and I think many of the buildings are not fully occupied.”
“I think a lot of restaurant owners are feeling the pinch,” Porter said.
Several restaurants near Vernon Blvd have also shut down in recent times. These include Station LIC (now Jacksons) as well as RePubLIC50 (formally OpenDoor) located at 50th Avenue. Meanwhile, PokeLICious (Beer Closet) closed on 51st Avenue earlier this year.
I’ve been to few of those places. Some of them used to cook good food. But since rent is increasing, business isn’t the same as it once was. I shudder to think about the future projects around Vernon…
New York City has become a “rat race”
I like pizza
Alobar closed due to tax issues so it is in a different category. I will say that good was subpar compared to when they first opened and I don’t think they did a good job of keeping things fresh. Mu Ramen guys are opening a steakhouse in that space so we will see how they do.
Some random thoughts. I put Alobar in the same bad food category as the others that closed. They (along with Open Door) lost the battle of the bad gastropubs, yet experienced bar owners keep opening them up. Rents are high, foot traffic low (especially at night). Not a winning combo for a city that regulates and chokes small biz to death. Oh, and then there’s the Brooklyn envy factor that LIC’ers have. Which in my opinion is why they fawn over M Wells, and non LIC’ers do not.
A lot of excuses are being made here, but I don’t see Casa Enrique suffering – and for good reason – nor has Tournesol had a problem staying open. On these blogs and around the community so often the mentality is smallish that people tend to cheer anything that opens – anything – and especially small businesses must survive at all costs. And most of the time one bit of honesty never becomes part of this conversation – that a ton of these places are simply not that good. Did anyone ever eat at Masso? Tutti Matti? For too long mediocre places have popped up, trying to capitalize on a neighborhood that ‘s not as “sophisticated” as Manhattan. But while the rents are certainly a problem, the good places around the neighborhood have shown you can prosper.
Could not agree more, there are plenty of restaurants that have stayed open in my five years of living here such as Cyclo, Woodbines, Casa Enrique..even Blend..these restaurants that have closed (except Alobar) all had the exact same thing in common…lack of customers! It is why any business closes they all think that they can run a successful restaurant and 1 out of 3 often do close not know how much it really cost to operate. I am excited to see what is going into the Masso space as well as the old Alobar space. Why as a community should we settle for mediocre non consistent dining experience.,we work too hard to settle.
how is blend still open?
Sadly, there are issues with rent, closures, and empty commercial spaces all over NYC. It feels like the city is a shell of its former self.
The people disliking this post are so blind to reality. Hi, transplants!
With you 100%
Not “transplants”, but “the future”.
Riiiight. 90% of them won’t be here long enough to be part of the “future”. I just overheard a conversation in Brooklyn yesterday between two people who needed to leave because it’s “too hard to make it in NYC”. I also know of many people who moved here and left in the last few years. Not everyone can handle it, and this version of NYC is the “tame” version, not the city I grew up in, which makes it worse.
Anon, again, I agree with you 100%. And I can’t tell you how many people I hear talking about their time in NYC like it’s some temporary stint that they are doing to pad their resume.
And I should add that it’s not just transplants disliking the post, but real estate shills, too. Gotta sell that dream.
Basta- we are on the same page!
It would be nice to have places that have more vegan options in the neighborhood. It’s actually shocking how few vegan options there are especially in relation to the number of restaurants.
I would love to be able to eat out in LIC and not have to keep going to the same 3-4 places.
You have an option. Eat meat like a normal person.
what a jerkoff thing to say
lic always a bridesmaid never a bride
same old story
Dude, it’s Queens. If you are obsessed with being the bride, move to Manhattan.
Most needed to close because of poor quality and pricing, some because of rent.
I mostly just go to 3-4 places in the neighborhood that make food I don’t at home. Otherwise I can go to the city to a place with quality better prices.
So9me of the owners in the area just don’t get it. I wish a few more would go away.
It’s not just about rents – get it all before you come with an angle
It’s a little of all of the above.
LIC is too transient a community to bother trying to cater to. All renters. Few making it past a couple years. Either a pit stop for families on the way to the burbs, or young professionals that either make it and move to BK or Manhattan, or realize this city is not a cheap place to be and move back to wherever.
Some of these places were great. Alobar was fantastic, and the Bib Gourmond seemed to think so as well.
Juniors was the best pizza/casual italian in town…
Unfortunately, the next businesses to take over these places will be faced with landlords charging even more than the previous tenants, b/c rent prices are a one way street. In return, dishes will be priced higher, and people will state that $X is too expensive, then in the same breath complain about how there’s nothing good or exciting to eat.
The neighborhood is designed to fail, both businesses and residents.
Pretty astute observations. I don’t see why so many people “dislike” what you had to say. It’s as if they cannot accept reality.
Dorians on 2 occasions sucked. 1 time the Cole slaw smelled so bad it stunk. I complained and was told it was complimentary! Second time I found pork in my garden omelette. I’m vegetarian. I was told “well it’s all cooked on the same grill”. They suck.
The only one of those I miss at all is PokeLICious. That place, short lived as it was, was awesome.
Meh Poke is SO 2016
Poke was so never.
PokeLICious was overpriced and subpar. To capitalize on a trend you have to do it better than others (or different). The only thing PokeLICious did differently was over charge, and under decorate – it was so gross in there it made it hard to accept that their raw fish wasn’t contaminated. I had such high hopes, but am not surprised they closed.
The whole “capitalizing on a trend” thing is itself the biggest problem. People want authenticity (well, smart eaters do). The last place I want to spend my money is at some crap place with a fake sterile atmosphere, unfriendly service, and bullshit trendy overpriced food that the New York Times Food section gets giddy over. Make it real, and people will go. This isn’t rocket science.
MRLIC is correct, no family, person or business can stay in LIC. The rent for everything is ridiculous, the apartments are small and overpriced with greedy developers like TFCornerstone. Only the extremely well off can stay. The parking garages are also a bunch of thieves and the supermarkets are too expensive. I lived on Center Blvd for 4 years and was run out by prices.
The rehabd halfway house where I live serves better food than these “restaurants”. How can this be the “Greatest City in the World”?!
what this area needs is a good italian restaurant with space for dogs and strollers
How about a Hampton Jitney stop or another CrossFit?
Cranky’s Cafe/1682 French Louisiana was one of my favorite restaurants of all time for breakfast. Very sad it is gone. The rest of those restaurants are gone because they were not very good or because they did not change with the neighborhood.
Maybe the neighborhood should have changed with them. Did you ever consider such a concept? Or do you really want NYC to change into your native Connecticut?
You are mind boggling.
Sometimes I have to boggle a bit before you can see the light. You’re welcome!
Basta is a troll…stop feeding him.
The high cost of rent is not the only issue, albeit a big one. The main problem is sales. If an establishment has sales, then costs do not become an issue for closure. In short, there isn’t enough traffic throughout the day to generate the sales these places need in order to survive. During the day LIC is empty of people, with most residents working in Manhattan. After work they often simply go out to wine and dine in the city before coming back to queens. Secondly, don’t forget the residents of LIC are well off financially. In order for them to be well off financially they need to work their butts off for it, meaning there isn’t much time for lounging around a bar or eating out all the time at some fancy restaurant. Lastly, we keep forgetting that LIC has many families. Parents cannot go out as often because of the children, this adding to the low traffic of the streets of LIC.
You make some fantastic points!
Sooooo, if there aren’t enough potential clients in the area, the rent is indeed too damn high. This is basic economics.
As for your other points, not everyone LIC is well off financially. Many residents probably have good salaries, but a huge chunk of that is eaten up by their own rent. Then you have others with only modest income, just trying to get by, plus the children/spouses of someone with some money, living on a fixed allowance.
As for families, raising a kid in NYC has never been an ideal choice, but of course you transplants wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?
Why is everyone you disagree with a transplant? Lived in NYC and queens and lic all my life. People work hard stay or move on. Yes developers have rent too high for new upstart restaurants to have a chance to survive. But the vibe of LIC is not yet there to support the business area expansion. They should rezone and promote restaurants and other entertainment on Jackson Ave and Vernon Blvd. We should have stores, museums, even a club on Jackson Ave to get enough critical mass. But it’s complainers like you who refuse to allow a new business to open because of traffic, noise or afraid of chain stores etc. The urban market store is just a key food, they just changed the name so it sounds better for people who are against chains for no good reason. You keep telling people to move but then you complain about new people so why don’t you move if you don’t like the neighborhood anymore and what it’s trying to become. Neighborhoods change, my old neighborhood changed demographics and cultures 3 times since I lived there. I don’t complain about how the new stores and restaurants and meeting new people are ruining my life, it is making my life better and I haven’t been mugged in years so I consider it a good thing to happen
Xeno, I’m not even sure what you are trying to say, because your comment is all over the road.
First off, I didn’t call everyone I disagree with a transplant. I called people with ridiculous notions about family life in NYC, trying to compare it to the suburbs, transplants. And I stand by that statement.
As for your zest for development, I guess that’s your personal opinion. Are you really happy, though, that your neighborhood has changed identity three times?
And do you really think some chain stores and a “club” will improve the quality of life for the residents? Perhaps you should consider a move to Vegas?
You scared of change dude… Anyways it’s better than having the street dead on Vernon at 9pm on a Saturday. It is not good for business and not good for a growing neighborhood. We have to have a diversity of business to survive. Yes even a club even though I won’t go as long as it’s away from residential areas near Jackson to bring people into the neighborhood. You appear to hate what the neighborhood so please move. Save everyone your troll comments.
I’m not afraid of change, so long as it is well thought out, and change for the better. Your ideas bring absolutely nothing to the community. You seem to want something more akin to a college town than a neighborhood for working, educated adults.
There may not be enough traffic to go around, however the landlords can charge these rates because there is a demand by entreupreneurs to open businesses who haven’t actually done their homework on the neighborhood and thrown away their life savings. If you were a landlord you would have done the same thing and charged as much as you could to any potential tenant whether. Anyone who would do the opposite and not try to maximize his/her profit shouldn’t be a landlord…
Anon (whichever one you are) hit the nail on the head. A lot if misguided entrepreneurs end up taking these high rent places because they have unrealistic expectation, and that fuels the market. How many of the recently opened places are actually turning profits? I bet there aren’t many.
Wtf do you know about raising kids in NYC? People have been doing it for decades or have you never met a native nyc kid? Landlords are greedy and trying to capitalize and people are picky. There should be a vacancy tax placed on every commercial space that goes empty, (juniors for ex). Perhaps that will curb the greed a bit.
You’re a typical parasite that wants something for nothing.
I’ve met, and I’m friends with, plenty of NYC kids. Real NYC kids (and somehow I wonder if you can say the same). More than enough to see the difference between growing up in NYC, and growing up in the burbs.
And I’m not saying that one is better than the other, they are just different. The issue is people trying to make NYC like the suburbs, so that their kids don’t have to grow up like NYC kids of the past, because they view it as a negative.
As a native nyc kid myself (Manhattan and queens) I know better than anyone what it’s like to be born and raised here. I watched the city change from mom and pops to chains and banks. I watched 42nd street go from a porn lover’s paradise to a corporate disney world. I agree that those parents who want for suburban creature comforts here in LIC are delusional. It’s the moms of center blvd you have issue with, the ones who need canopies over their playgrounds for their tiny snowflakes because playing outside with some sunscreen or a hat is unheard of. BUT – the turnover in restaurants is due to 2 things – bad food/service and greedy landlords. If the landlords actually believed in the neighborhood they would gradually increase rent as the customer base grew, vs expecting immediate payday based on the number of rental units built.
You say I’m the worst, yet you actually agree with me on most things. I’ve also been saying that the rents are too high, which implies greedy landlords, but I went on to say that, unfortunately, they are finding misguided entrepreneurs willing to pay those rents. For every 5 smart business people that come to the conclusion that profitability is nearly impossible with these rents in this location, there is one that is willing to take the risk (either because they are naive, stupid or just overly optimistic).
But the bigger problem is previously successful businesses, that made smart initial decisions, which are suddenly blindsided by huge rent hikes. It’s happening like crazy in Manhattan, and often the places remain empty for long periods after the old business moves out.
I work a block away from Les Halles, which closed well over a year ago and the location is still empty and starting to get run-down.
Thank you for the insightful comment. How would you compare LIC with Williamsburg and Greenpoint then?
How about some decent stores instead of just restaurants and Luxury Condos & Hotels in Court Sq. area? Even a FAST FOOD chain would be welcome. Most of these hotels will go wanting due to overbuilding. Some will house homeless after a while as NYC needs space for the less fortunate and pays TOP DOLLAR to house them. The Verve on Queens Plaza already house a women’s shelter and a few lesser Hotels around LIC have already been converted to shelters. The Verve was a former Luxury Condo with marble top kitchen counters.
There’s a Chipotle in CT sq
And a subway sandwich chain.
Left old El Ay Si off the list, which was the best place to close so far (and filled a huge void at the time).
And Lounge 47, closed in part thanks to a grumpy old man who lives on Vernon.
Meanwhile there’s still a lack of bars and restaurants around the Court Sq area in relation to the growing (and continuing to grow) number of units there. There’s only so many times you can go to the 3/4 bars and restaurants you can count on one hand in that area. Alas the issues with rocketing rents will not be overcome there either…
Anyone know what happened to Breadbox?
Yeh it closed also
I loved that place because the food was good, we could sit outside (although next to a gas station), and because there was never a line but it was super expensive, they never actually had the fresh bread basket and the service was absolutely terrible. How many times can you pay $16 for scrambled eggs, toast and bacon?
I have heard that the owner of the gas station and the owner of the breadbox land are one in the same, and owner is looking to sell…
The shakshuka was great.
Get ready for one less gas station because they’ll for sure build a condo.
def – hopefully with some decent ground floor commercial/retail space though. Not a huge loss on the gas station, given the one on Jackson less than a block away.
Unfortunately you are probably right. And it’s a shame, because the open air/space currently provided by the gas station and breadbox is sorely needed in the neighborhood.
Can someone please open up more charming restaurants with good food like Williamsburg and Greenpoint? I would rather support my own neighborhood but the options are lacking.
Ha I feel the same way. My family and I always go to Williamsburg and Greenpoint to eat cause the restaurants server better quality food and have stronger breath across types infusion style foods.
“stronger breath” is not something I usually look for in a server
We were just saying this tonight. Where’s the personality and charm in our LIC restaurants?! And the street life? Walk to Greenpoint and you get a much better vibe.
Wow, just wow. You people are EXACTLY the problem. You talk about the “charm” of restaurants, exposing yourselves as shallow sheep desperate to feel special. Obviously some crappy “industrial chic” design and a Brooklyn address is all it takes to pull the wool over your eyes.
And you have a problem with the street life? Seriously? It’s YOUR neighborhood. YOU are the street life, ffs! Stop looking for other people to make you feel cool and special. And if you love Williamsburg so much, move there.
What do you mean by “you people”?! Wow, racist.
Try deleting the word “racist” from your vocabulary. You will alive again!
People wanting better for their neighborhood are the problem? Wow, just wow.
I gotta agree with Licer. The restaurants that recently closed didn’t serve good food. Alobar was the exception but they closed due to tax issues so…
All the terrible ones closed! Rent is not the issue, the problem is how many customers you can get!
Licer, the rent is an issue according to some of the owners of the closed restaurants. More will close. Some will open and then close. Rents are the prime reason nothing or no one in LIC whether business or residential stays in LIC.
Most of those places were not terrible. San Remo had real NY pizza, and it was cheap too. The problem is all the finicky transplants and spoiled kids that need to think they are eating something special or different all the time.
So very true.
Sorry, but San Remo had terrible pizza that was so greasy you didn’t buy it – you rented it. To call it NY pizza shows you to be a transplant who confuses a Pizza Hut in Times Square with real pizza.
Dont agree the pizza was great
The pizza was very bad. Nice guy, though.
Frank, you must be kidding. I was raised on NY pizza, and have probably forgotten more about pizza than most people will ever hope to know. Good pizza involves some grease, deal with it. And if you want completely grease free pizza, you will be eating crappy pizza. San Remo was the real deal. Maybe not the absolute best pizza in NY, but it was the only place around with the genuine article. All those other places (Slice, the Start) are just some bread with a bunch of trendy crap thrown on top.
If your pizza has grease on it, that means either the sauce was greasy or the cheese was low quality and broke when heated. Sorry, but those would be culinary facts.
Frank, what you call grease is actually oil. Go to Italy and try to find some pizza without oil. Just pack a lot of underwear, because it’s gonna take you a while…
I grew up in Bensonhurst so know good NYC style pizza and San Remo was the worst.
Whereas Tutti Matti’s genuine Napolitano pizza was the best in the neighborhood- will be missed.
Nothing genuinely “Napolitano” about Tutti Matti (especially since pizza is feminine). Sorry to burst your bubble.
You do not know pizza he was very good ! You probly like frozen pizza
You can age gracefully, or you can age like a cranky old timer, constantly complaining and blaming everything on these “finicky transplants and their spoiled kids”.
What? It has nothing to do with aging gracefully. The truth is the truth, no matter who speaks it. The neighborhood isn’t a fraction of what it could be, and it’s moving in the wrong direction. Pointing that out is simply stating the objective reality of the situation. If that makes people “cranky,” well then they have every right to be cranky. The cost of living is way too high to be dealing with certain situations and the attitudes of certain “neighbors.”
Let’s separate the arguments here cause not all of them correlate. San Remo was horrible and the guy who ran it was a jerk both times I went in there. Don’t go on about rent right now thats a separate issue. Even if they paid high rent and tried to charge a higher price for that garbage pizza nobody would go. Just old timers complaining about a low cheap option. If you said a cheap pizza option was closing that’s fine but to call that garbage pizza is insulting to pizza everywhere.
Maybe my experience was different because I spoke to the guy like a normal human being, and he made me a fresh pizza while I waited? YMMV
It’s too bad you use the example of San Remo to point out that, yes, we have a segment of the population in the neighborhood that are in fact finicky. (I recall at least one guy below in this comment section predicting the rapid demise of Something Sweet, which proves some people don’t have any idea what they are talking about.) But, my God, San Remo was horrible!! It wasn’t even close to good, old-style NYC pizza — it wasn’t even close to good anything.
Something Sweet proved me wrong too. It seems to have that special something. Can someone explain its appeal over, say, Sugar Cube? Genuinely curious. Even though SS is not someplace I would go with any regularity, it’s nice to walk by and see so many people out in the neighborhood on a summer evening.
What will something sweet do in the winter?
Something Sweet feels genuine and welcoming, like an old-school NYC neighborhood joint that has been around forever. They are friendly without any pretense. It’s not some awkward, frosty, tarted up BS place riding a trend grabbed onto by a bunch of bullshitty people who don’t know squat about food or desserts. If more food places created that down-home vibe, they would be successful too.
Something Sweet is more regular ice cream, Sugarcube is more rich gelato. I like and regularly visit both, but for different reasons.
Rent is not the issue??? What are you a moron? Of course it’s an issue unless you own the building it’s the biggest pay out each month. And each year it increases from 2-6%
All of the restaurants in NYC are struggling because of rent that’s why Chefs are moving out of the city. It’s insane.
Heh Tony didnt you just agree with the comments posted ?
But U choose to say ” Moron ” even though you agree with the posting ?
Wondering who the Moron actually is then
Tony what are you trying to say ?
Sav5, He’s trying to say you are a moron because he knew before hand you would ask “what he is talking about”
Rents are high – They will come down as businesses close down. The landlords are having fun : )
Landlords sucking the businesses dry…..Businesses sucking the consumers dry (New York City for ya!)
Agree. We frequent the other restaurants, but did not frequent the ones that have closed. Excited to see new restaurants arrive.
Sure, as long as it is shiny and new, right?
What’s wrong with shiny and new. Get with the times and quit complaining so much!
So Alobar was terrible ?
I LOVED everything about Alobar. The food was delish! Very sad about that closure..