‘Heartbeat of Little Italy:’ America’s oldest cheese shop closing down

The news of this business closing really stinks!

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

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

“I was really hoping this day would never come and it’s a sad day.”

Alivia was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy after collecting about $628,00 in back rent since the start of the pandemic.

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

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

Aliva Dairy has been at its 188 Grand Street location since 1892.
Christian Johnston

“My store is the oldest cheese shop in America and the heartbeat of Little Italy. We are a New York institution,” King said.

Not only has the longtime cheese specialist lured generations of families to its long menu of Italian delicacies, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, cured meats and cannoli, but Avella’s Dairy continues to attract famous faces from around the world. Also known for

Leah Remini, Michael Imperioli, Alice Cooper and Joey Reynolds are some of Avella’s famous customers. Comedian Sebastian Menscalco was a big fan of the shop’s sausage and peppers, and negotiator Herb Cohen was known to practice his craft in the store.

“It’s a loss. It’s sad that a store like this had to go down. Alleva was a great store. It was all about the food,” said actor Chaz Palmentieri, who frequented Alleva Dairy when he lived in Little Italy. were, told The Post on Tuesday.

Karen King, owner of Aleva Dairy-Cheese Store, poses in front of her business in front of the Aleva Dairy Cheese Store.
“The pandemic destroyed my business,” said owner Karen King.
Christopher Sadowski

“This place looked the same for 100 years. How could it not, after all these years?”

Palmentieri said his two Italian restaurants in Manhattan and White Plains took “big hits” from the COVID pandemic, but fortunately are still standing.

Mozzarella Merchant began struggling to pay his $23,756-a-month rent during the early months of the global recession as business from both individual customers and local eateries slowed considerably.

Avila tried to extricate herself from the hole, but she could not meet her landlord’s demands. In April 2022, Jerome G. Stable III Realty filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court asking for permission to foreclose on the store if they were unable to pay its debts.

A pile of cheese in a store window.
Avila Dairy’s last day at its Little Italy corner will be March 5, King said.
Christopher Sadowski

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

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

“The pandemic destroyed my business,” King explains.

Despite the gut-wrenching loss, King is looking to the future of the infamous cheese shop.

“I have plans to open a new location and continue the Aliva legacy,” King said. “I want to thank everyone for their love and support.”

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