Century-old Little Italy cheese shop closing after falling behind on rent

Alleva Dairy, established in 1892, filed for bankruptcy after facing eviction suit

Alleva Dairy, 188 Grand Street (Google Maps, Getty)
Alleva Dairy, 188 Grand Street (Google Maps, Getty)

Alleva Dairy served up hunks of fresh mozzarella at the corner of Grand and Mulberry streets through the Great Depression, the city’s bleakest years of the late 1970s and the aftermath of 9/11. But it could not survive Covid.

The shop at 188 Grand Street in Little Italy, which claims to be America’s oldest cheese purveyor, is closing for good at the beginning of March after falling behind on its $23,800-a-month rent, the New York Post reported.

“My store is the oldest cheese shop in America and the heartbeat of Little Italy. We’re a New York institution,” owner Karen King told the paper.

Alleva — whose regulars have included actors Michael Imperioli, Chaz Palminteri and Leah Remini — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September in a bid to restructure its debt, which had ballooned to over $620,000.

“The pandemic devastated my business,” King said.

The shop’s landlord, the Stabile family, sued to evict it in April of last year, and eventually struck a deal to forgive the debt if the shop vacated its location by March 5, the Post reported.

Alleva is one of several long-standing bars and restaurants in Lower Manhattan to succumb to the pandemic, including Fedora and Chumley’s in the West Village and China Chalet in the Financial District 

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Lockdowns early in the pandemic caused the city’s food service sector to lose nearly two thirds of its workforce between the first and second quarters of 2020, according to a report by the state comptroller’s office.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion federal relief program, ran out of money in July 2021 after paying out less than a third of applicants.

King told the Post she sought, but failed to receive, help from a number of government entities and elected officials, including the governor. 

Despite the setbacks, King has not ruled out the possibility of relocating. 

“We are committed to remaining here in Little Italy, hopefully for another 130 years,” she told the Post.

Ted Glanzer

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