The Mystery of Grimaldi’s Financial Woes

DumboNYC ponders  Grimaldi’s finances after yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story that tourist magnet/pizza place has been served eviction papers reportedly due to being $44,000 in back rent.  Not only that, but they owe the state $12,500 in back taxes.

DumboNYC: With the consistent lines and the recent $2 surcharge for the privilege of picking up pizza (a local’s “special”), why Grimaldi’s cannot pay rent and property taxes are a mystery to us.

Update: Today’s Brooklyn Paper quotes Grimaldi’s owner Frank Ciolli as saying he has accrued and will pay the rent, which the landlady, Dorothy Waxman, had refused to accept because “she’s mad that he got a few Department of Sanitation violations earlier this year.” The article also notes that Ciolli has previously been behind in paying state tax, and that in 2008 the store was briefly shut down because of a much larger arrearage, but that the dispute was resolved “within a day”. Some local business people, including Peter Thristino of Pete’s Downtown, are quoted as saying this is Ciolli’s normal way of operating. Because his business generates lots of cash, he likes to let it earn interest as long as possible and pays rent as late as he can.

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  • brooklynheightze

    One can only wonder…I think they make $44,000+$12,500 in one day serving their inedible pizza to their almost entirely out-of-town patrons with such incredible rudeness.

  • resident

    I would guess it has something to do with their failed expansion into the financial district and their planned expansion into the old limelight. Must have been using the revenues from the original to pay for all that, figuring that they eventually would pay back the landlord and that the landlord surely wouldn’t kick out a brooklyn tradition in the meantime.

    Really, brooklynheightze? Indedible? While it is certainly overrated compared to some of the more recent pizza places to open up, it’s not inedible. Inconsistent, yes, but even on its worst days its better than places like Lombardi’s and Patsy’s (the chain) in manhattan or the other pizza place around the corner from Grimaldi’s. On its best days, it is still pretty top notch, and to deny this is probably just spite towards the tourists lining up.

    Since the place does have a coal oven, I’m hoping the new tenant will be another pizza joint. Dream scenario: Eater reported that the original Grimaldis were looking to get back into the business, maybe a return on Old Fulton?

  • Peter

    Serious question: what pizza in the ‘hood is better than Grimaldi’s? I hate the crazy line of tourists, but I find their pizza pretty damn delicious once I am inside.

    I tried Lucali’s, which was “good” but didn’t live up to the hype in my mind. Fascati’s is always reliable, but a bit too dry of late for me, unless you buy an entire pie (which tends to provide better slices).

    PLEASE tell me your favorites, would love to try them out!

    PS, although it’s in Manhattan, Adrienne’s on Stone Street served a fantastic pie last time I was there.

  • zburch

    My favorite int he hood, and maybe the city, is Sam’s Pizza and Chops on Court.

  • brooklynheightze

    First you wait for an hour+ outside in 95F heat and finally when allowed in like a cattle wait for another ½ hour inside a dirty, noisy and crowded room to be served by the scurrying waiters who don’t ever seem to notice you have been sitting there and waiting for their attention. Then finally (if you are still there – on my second and last visit to this tourist trap I got up and left after wasting almost 2 hours of my time) you are served a thin, saggy burnt pie. Try Fascati, while theirs is not the best pizza in town it is way better than Grimaldi’s and an average wait time is 10 seconds.

  • resident

    So, brooklynheightze, you admit to having had one pizza at Grimaldi’s, and a second bad experience with waiting. Surely you can see that you aren’t giving an unbiased opinion.

    Here’s a hint, don’t go during peak tourist season. Avoid weekends (unless you can be there for first or last seating) during the summer. The wait simply isn’t worth it. If you have a craving during the summer go late in the evening on a week day or call in an order. Best time to go is during the winter, far less people are willing to stand in line.

    I like Fascati’s, I really do. I get it far more often than Grimaldi’s or any other place. To me it is a solid, “everyday” pizza joint. But it’s not in the same realm as Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s has better ingredients, a better crust, and is baked in a coal fired oven. That’s not to say you can’t get a “bad” pie from Grimaldi’s. You can certainly get a pie that needed another minute in the oven, especially during peak times, but on the whole, I’ve never gone with anyone that’s been disappointed.

  • Obama

    Rather suspicious how a pizzeria that is usually packed & has dozens & dozens more tourists & locals waiting on line to get in can’t meet the rent!?

    What’s really going on here?

  • brooklynheightzer

    They seem to run a very suspicious operation there and I never thought pizza was their primary business – perhaps that is why their pizza stinks.

  • heightsss

    cranky pants!!

  • panjo

    You morons think because tourists go there the pizza is good??
    There are 500 better pizza joints in Brooklyn than this place!!
    Go to Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney island, even Canarsie has way better tasting pizza than this overated lousy joint.

  • A Neighbor

    Hey, guys, lighten up. Nobody has insulted your mother. We’re only talking about pizza here. Consider the possibility that maybe not everyone likes the same kind of pizza.

  • Robyn

    You got it panjo. Longer lines does not mean better pizza. In fact, from my experience they have some of the worst pies in town with 18 violations (see below). So resident and Peter, you may even get mice droppings as a free topping. Enjoy it!

    This is what the site says:
    Violation points: 18

    Violations were cited in the following area(s).

    Sanitary Violations
    1) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
    2) Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
    3) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
    4) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist.
    5) Other general violation.

  • Peter

    Panjo, any local places that you can recommend? Seeing that I am a moron for enjoying a pie from Grimaldes, the drool from my mouth has gotten on my keyboard, so I can’t Google any alternatives, and my dunce cap keeps turning the light off above my head … any help a genius like yourself could provide would help my cause greatly.

  • brooklynheightzer

    Hey Peter, I think you go a little bit too far with your sarcasm. As Robyn said, go to Grimaldi’s and get your pie there. Mouse droppings will be on the house….

  • Peter

    Brooklynheightzer, in my original post I asked a sincere, non-combative question: what pizza in the hood is better? Someone mentioned Sam’s, which I plan to check out.

    Are you really naive to think that the other Brooklyn establishments are free of violations? This is New York, not grandma’s kitchen. Not condoning the violations, but this tangent swayed the conversation away from my intent — I just want to find some good neighborhood pizza!

  • heightsss

    “brooklynheightzer and panjo need a time out” – the morons

  • Demonter

    Look into DiFara’s on Avenue J…

  • fulton ferry res

    1) I bet many of your favorite restaurants have more than 18 violation points
    2) Lucali’s is very good, but the wait time for a table can be just as long
    3) Ignazio’s is more expensive, and if you think the service is rude at Grimaldi’s, just try Ignazio’s!
    4) Just because the clientele is mostly tourists does not make it bad. Locals tend to avoid hour-long waits for pizza, either because they don’t have the time (they’re not on vacation) or because they are afraid of the stigma from being seen on line with, heaven forbid, tourists.
    5) When they’re very busy, you might get a soggy or half-burnt pizza, but in general I have had excellent pizza there around 80% of the time

  • Kitty

    I second the recommendation for Sam’s! A million times better than Grimaldi’s with none of the line. The real deal.

  • x

    Pizzas from Grimaldi are waaaay overrated. Not worth the price either!

    Tourists are very gullable, so they go where the guidebooks tell them.

  • ABC

    I like Grimaldi’s and I always call ahead. I don’t get locals who DONT call ahead. You guys wait in line?

  • fulton ferry res

    I have never waited on line. But when they are busy (more than 10 people outside on line) they don’t answer the phone. I have the advantage of being able to look out my window to see if my chances of placing a pick-up order will be successful.

  • nabeguy

    PEOPLE! IT’S PIZZA! Why all the agita? Oh yeah, this is New York City (Brooklyn, no less) where we define ourselves by our local slices. I love a a good pie, but don’t quite get the “going-to-the-matresses” arguments that inevitably arise when the discussion turns to ranking them. After all, we’re talking about a dish that consists of gluten-free dough, red sauce, and mozzarella cheese. How complicated can it be?

  • my2cents

    I third the Sam’s recommendation. That place is an unsung gem on court street. Why it’s never crowded just boggles the mind. But the best pizza in NYC (IMHO) is actually at Sal’s on Staten Island. The Vodka sauce pie is mind blowing and the service is sooooo friendly!! Well worth the bridge toll if you ask me.

    This who debacle has distinct echos of CBGB. It seems like owners of famous NYC “institutions” feel justified in playing fast and loose with the state and the landlord. I don’t think we should shed tears when these crooks bring about their own downfall. And their pizza peaked years ago. Also, I for one would be happy to see the Fulton Ferry less full of etrangers and turisti.

  • Andrew Porter

    For the first time in 10 years, I had pizza a few months ago: two slices from Fascati’s. I remember when they opened. But although I loved their pizza, I’m happier that I’ve lost 65 pounds and kept it off for 10 years. Everything in moderation, even (shock!) pizza.

  • TS McGee

    PizzaMoto may be better than Grimaldi’s. Wood burning oven baked on the street. Try these guys out if your at the flea market. For about $10 you get a pie that will feed 2 hungry adults.

  • Robyn

    Peter, brooklynheightzer answered your question – Fascati.

    heightsss, do you have a stake in the place?

    Just to summarize – you want to wait on line for 2 hours, sit in a noisy, dirty crowded room, served by rude waiters and at the end get overpriced, saggy half burnt pie, with mouse excrements as a topping go ahead and enjoy your pizza at Grimaldi’s.

  • Hicks St guy

    Lee’s Tavern on Staten Island rules.

  • brooklynheightzer

    Thank you for your very succinct and accurate summary.

  • justaneighbor

    Guys- why has nobody spoken about My Little Pizzeria on Court Street? Just a few minutes’ walk from the North Heights, but I’ve always liked their slices.