Oct. 21, 2013 By Christian Murray
A pizzeria is opening on Vernon Blvd in the space that had been occupied by Mario’s Deli for the past 18 years.
The pizzeria, which will be located at 47-23 Vernon Blvd, is expected to open in February and represents a new era in Long Island City.
Tom Blaze, the owner, has yet to come up with a name for the eatery. However, he did say the pizzeria would be for casual dining (not a restaurant) and that he would be focusing on selling to residents.
While Blaze was discussing his plans at the new Vernon Blvd location, Mario Migliorelli (the owner of Mario’s Deli) was about 30 feet away cleaning up the empty store as he was about to hand the keys to the landlord.
Migliorelli, 61, who closed at the end of August (although his lease ends Oct. 30), said his business peaked and fell with the transformation of Long Island City.
“When I opened the deli, business was excellent,” Migliorelli said. “We had all these manufacturers—such as air-conditioning companies, Pepsi, Budweiser–and there were steady customers.”
But as the residential towers went up and the manufacturers started to disappear business began to dry up. “I did get a lot of the construction workers buying lunch which helped replace lost business—but they didn’t work all year round.”
Migliorelli said that as construction moved farther away from Vernon Blvd in recent years and new eateries and restaurants popped up business got even tougher.
“I had to rely on residents and they had a lot of places to go to,” he said.
Therefore, when his lease came up this year he decided that he didn’t want to work long hours to eke out a living. He decided to call it a day.
Migliorelli said he’s taking a few months off and going to work for Pepsi. “My wife works, so what I’m going to do…sit around at home all day?”
What a shame… I loved going there to buy his Chicken Parm Heroes which were excellent. Quite frankly I do not want another pizza place, I want to have my old deli back with its great sandwiches. If only someone could take over the old place and try to continue Mario’s Buisness, it would certainly guarantee my continued buisness as I would rather be going to Junior’s or San Remo for pizza.
i think lucky pizza has the best pizza in long island city. I stay ordering from lucky pizza cause pizza just taste better than everyone elses.
Mario was a true local hero for many years. I wish him the best of luck and will miss his hero sandwiches. It’s really frustrating that his business — the kind of place that make up the backbone of any solid neighborhood — are becoming more difficult to run. There’s a real generational connection we make with places like Mario’s that is absent with many other fly by night places that spring up in gentrifying neighborhoods.
Mario, you are a mensch and we’ll miss you.
Loved Mario’s, Great hard working guy.
Agree on cost of small business (rent is too damn high), agree on hours …
I think everyone is forgetting about the main culprit here for the demise: the cost of doing (small) business in NYC. Faced with diminishing income, higher wages to pay his workers, higher food costs, higher permit costs, and quite frankly a new customer base of with more “refined” tastes, there were significant challenges Mario was facing. The man has been running multiple businesses for 30 years in a row, working what amounts to double shifts. To extend his hours past 5 pm, the only feasible option would have been to hire a second manager, and either he didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to.
Either way, sounds like we’re all on the same page when we say that we’ll miss him and wish him the best.
Can’t wait to have MORE pizza in the neighborhood. Ugh. My dream of having a useful retail store in this neighborhood fades with each opening of a nail/hair salon, Italian eatery or Asia fusion joint.
Time’s up, you have it spot on!
This is great!! Hope its good stuff and variety!
Wouldn’t mind a good frozen yogurt place in the Hunters Point area too, like an Orange Leaf or something. Thoughts?
Love Mario’s sandwiches years ago, but they got more expensive and smaller as time went by. Granted everything gets more expensive as time goes by, but them more than others. The coffee was also the best ‘deli’ coffee in the the area too.
But good memories, good luck Mario!! They were some good times.
I loved Marios but have to agree that I was only able to eat there for lunch if I had a rare day off. If they had been open more/different hours, I would be about 20 lbs. heavier right now!
Spot on Jessica. They purposely minimized their revenue. In addition to the restricted hours, I wanted them to cater a party twice, but both times they declined because Mario wanted to go hunting. He referred me to Testaccio instead.
So, as the article implies, this place’s demise was self-inflicted and not a result of an influx of residents (which doesn’t make much sense anyway).
And yes, we do need a real pizzeria. Apparently some of us don’t understand that Bella Via, Manetta’s, et al. are not pizzerias just because they sell pies. The only real pizzeria around is Sam Remo, and that place is an absolute disgrace.
I live on the same block of Vernon as Mario’s Deli and would have happily patronized their business, but they closed at 5:00pm everyday. It’s hard to cater to the residents of LIC when you’re closed before they get home from work.
Great – if there was one thing LIC needed it was another pizzeria
So excited about this! I really hope they stay open late and have a good selection of pies, slices, rolls, etc. LIC is in desperate need of a late night pizzeria for those drunken Friday and Saturday nights 🙂
Good luck, Mario!
Thank god because San Remo’s pizza just doesn’t cut it!