BROOKLYN HEIGHTS (WPIX)—It's a local institution whose pizza is world-famous, but Grimaldi's, the pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge, could be evicted before the week is over because of a money dispute.
"There is always a line out here, all the way back to that light pole," William Walker said, pointing to a streetlight three buildings away from the eatery's front door. "I'm very surprised if they close down," he told PIX 11 News. But close down they may, due to a disagreement over rent and back taxes.
Celebrities from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to actor Danny DeVito to comedian Bill Cosby, whose famous show was set in this neighborhood, have all set foot and eaten in Grimaldi's, a Brooklyn institution.
The Food Network rated the 1,100-square-foot restaurant one of the five best pizzerias in the country.
But it could come to an end soon. The restaurant known for its rare coal-fired pizza oven received eviction papers on July 27, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Landlady Dorothy Waxman will on Friday ask a judge to enforce the eviction, saying that her tenant, pizza maker Frank Ciolli, owes her three months' rent. Also, there's a nearly $15,000 tax lien, and Ciolli owes nearly $12,250 in property taxes and business improvement district charges.
Tyrone Schaffer lives around the corner from the Old Fulton Street restaurant. "Wow, they're gonna be in trouble," was his response to hearing the news about his popular neighbor.
"They have their name in all the tourist books and everything, so they're going to have some umhappy customers, I'm sure," Schaffer said to PIX 11 News.
The restaurant's attorney has said its owner has paid the rent he owed, and that landlady Dorothy Waxman simply can't be satisfied.
Even if the two sides can reach an agreement without an imminent eviction, Ciolli has lost his right to renew his lease, and has said he plans to eventually move the famed Brooklyn pizzeria to Manhattan.