The Avella Dairy cheese shop in Little Italy is closing

The news of this business closure really stinks!

Alleva Dairy in Little Italy, which bills itself as America’s oldest cheese shop, is closing after falling in rent arrears during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a remarkable 130 years, my beloved Alleva Dairy will no longer stand on the corner of Mulberry and Grand Streets in Little Italy, New York,” owner Karen King told the Post on Tuesday.

“I really hoped that day would never come, and it’s a sad one.”

Allevia was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings after amassing approximately $628.00 in rent arrears since the pandemic began.

King said she and the landlord eventually reached an agreement that frees her from the store’s significant financial debt as long as she vacates the Little Italy space next month.

Avella Dairy’s last day at its Little Italy corner, where it was founded in 1892, will be March 5, King said.

Alleva Dairy is located at 188 Grand Street in Little Italy, NYC.
Alleva Dairy has been at its location at 188 Grand Street since 1892.
Christian Johanneston

“My shop is America’s oldest cheese shop and the heartbeat of Little Italy. We’re a New York institution,” King said.

Not only has the longtime cheese connoisseur attracted generations of families with his long menu of Italian delights, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, charcuterie and cannoli’s, but Avella’s Dairy was also known for attracting famous faces from around the world.

Leah Remini, Michael Imperioli, Alice Cooper and Joey Reynolds are just a few of Avella’s celebrity clients. Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco was a big fan of the store’s sausage and peppers, and negotiation expert Herb Cohen was known for plying his trade in the store.

“It’s a loss. It’s a shame that a place like this has to go bankrupt. Alleva was a great shop. It was all about the food,” actor Chaz Palminteri, who frequented Alleva Dairy in Little Italy, told The Post on Tuesday.

Karen King, owner of Alleva Dairy-Cheese Store, poses in front of her Alleva Dairy-Cheese Store.
Owner Karen King said the “pandemic has devastated my business”.
Christopher Sadowski

“The place looked the same for over 100 years. How can it not be there after so many years?”

Palminteri said its two Italian restaurants in Manhattan and White Plains have suffered “great successes” from the COVID pandemic but are thankfully still around.

The mozzarella retailer began struggling to make its $23,756 monthly rent payments in the early months of the global crisis as business from both individual customers and local restaurants slowed significantly.

Avella struggled to dig his way out of the hole but could not keep up with his landlord’s demands. In April 2022, Jerome G. Stabile III Realty filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court, asking for permission to vacate the business if they could not pay its debt.

A pile of cheese in the shop window.
The last day of Avella Dairy on the corner of Little Italy will be March 5, King said.
Christopher Sadowski

King did everything in her power to keep the historic cheese shop open, including cutting staff pay and asking the government for help.

“I have written extensively letters to senators and government officials. We met with the governor’s office and got lip service,” King said. “Chinatown got money. A museum across from me got a million dollars. My question is when will companies like mine get their fair share?”

“The pandemic has destroyed my business,” explains King.

Despite the painful loss, King looks to the future of the infamous cheese shop.

“I have plans to open a new location and continue Alleva’s legacy,” King said. “I want to thank everyone for their love and support.” The Avella Dairy cheese shop in Little Italy is closing


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