Scaletta, the Italian restaurant at 50 West 77th Street off of Columbus Avenue, is serving its last dinner this Sunday, March 25 after failing to sign a new lease with the landlord. In a letter sent to West Side Rag that we’ve posted below, Scaletta says it wasn’t the cost of the new lease, it was simply that the landlords “coveted a shinier, fancier model in our place.”
In response to Scaletta’s explanation, landlord Equity Residential sent the following statement: “Equity has had strong working relationship with Scaletta‘s over the last ten plus years. We truly appreciate Scaletta‘s contribution to our neighborhood. We are excited about the possibilities the future holds for this space.”
Omer and Fred Grgurev — two brothers who immigrated from Croatia — opened Scaletta in 1988 with two other partners. Omer was a chef and Fred was a professional soccer player who played for the New York Cosmos, later becoming one of the all-time leading scorers in indoor soccer. Scaletta has served “Nobel prize winners, US Cabinet Secretaries, and luminaries of the performing arts,” wrote Michelle Grgurev, daughter and niece of the owners. “Scaletta became entwined in the fabric of the community, serving as a venue for countless life events, from bar mitzvahs to weddings.”
The letter is below.
To Our Loyal Customers, Friends, and Neighbors:
It is with great sadness the we must announce March 25th will be our final day in business.
Over the past thirty years, we served some of the most wonderful, talented guests—many of whom made us feel like an extension of their families and not just their neighborhood restaurant. And while you were always our customers, we also considered many of you our friends.
We love our neighborhood, and are grateful that we were given the opportunity to be a part of this community. Thirty years is a commendable run for any business, especially a NYC restaurant. You might be wondering whether we were yet another victim of astronomical rents? Well, to eliminate any speculation, here’s the story.
Yes, our rent had steadily climbed up, but no, it wasn’t the ultimate reason for our closing. In fact, we were willing to stomach yet another rent increase, and invest in gut renovating our space and committing to another decade or more. No, the truth is we simply weren’t wanted. Our landlords coveted a shinier, fancier model in our place. To our landlord, as well as to many in NYC these days, a celebrity chef-owned chain, or private equity backed steakhouse sounds a lot sexier than a family-owned Italian joint.
We get it. However, when we look out at the incredible number of retail vacancies polluting our neighborhood, including one prominently empty space on our very corner, we question whether pursuing big name tenants is shrewd business or simply quixotic. Commercial vacancies have become a blight on our communities, and yet it’s not for a lack of viable business models. It’s simply short-sighted greed.
On behalf of our wonderful employees, we thank you for your patronage and your friendship. And since we’re not bitter (ok, maybe a little), we wish the restaurant investment fund that occupies our humble subterranean space nothing but success and healthy financial returns. Lord knows we can use another chopped salad joint around here.
Just Bring the original Big Nick`s back.
The rest can go.
Don’t hold your breath.
Sad I am hopeful that they may re open.
There is a place on 72nd st that was BBQ that might still be open to rent,
This restaurant, though I never ate there, was mentioned in a detective mystery that I read several years ago. I remember reading the scene and then passing by it on the bus the next day. One of the amusing references for a New Yorker.
So sorry to say adieu. We loved Scaletta and had a long history there. Best of luck Fred
Scaletta’s closing is like a death in our family.
My husband and I were early patrons and enjoyed Omer and Freddy’s hospitality for so many years. We celebrated so many family milestones at Scalleta: My husband and my wedding, our son’s christening, first birthday, Holy Communion, Confirmation, first date and High School Graduation. My 50th birthday and my beloved husband’s funeral. Very hard to say good-bye.
Best food in NYC. Kind and warm staff
who always remembered us and treated my
family like their family.Freddie and Omer
are two class acts and we ALWAYS enjoyed
our time at Scaletta. My friends, you will
Chris Fahey & family
Scaletta was quintessentially dignified. The fact that it could not survive in the current climate is the greatest indictment of the current ethos of New York City. We will miss the gracious service and the tasty Italian American food.
What a shame! Nicest people I have encountered in any rest aurant. Good food and fair prices. As a senior citizen I welcomed the gentle buzz rather than the raucous cacophony characteristic of todays’ restaurants. I agree with them. The last thing we need is another upscale McDonalds.
well, i guess this answers all the landlord-sympathizers around here:
“Commercial vacancies have become a blight on our communities, and yet it’s not for a lack of viable business models. It’s simply short-sighted greed.”
Amen. A going-out-of-business restaurant owner finally was not afraid to say it.
Could there be some room for a “community board 7” investment group with good enough taste to cherish good restaurants like this one?
I’m sorry this restaurant is closing as I like it myself.
However, the space belongs to the landlord and he has the right to lease his space to whichever business he chooses and for whatever rent the market is willing to pay.
Instead of whining and lashing out at every else’s “greed” perhaps you should invest in commercial real estate and lease your space to the tenant willing to pay you the least in rent.
Sherm, you totally missed the point. Scaletta was willing to pay the increased rent. But the landlord wanted “the shinier new model.” Time will tell whether the landlord guessed wrong. All the vacancies we see suggest that not every landlord knows what they are doing.
I agree, George. So much of the restaurant scene is about trendiness and buzz, at the expense of quality. The food at Scaletta was always a cut above the norm on the UWS, and the ability to converse without shouting was a definite plus.
Farewell, again, to another cozy, warm, friendly restaurant with great food at moderate prices.
One of the UWS’s best.
Very sad about this. Many happy memories is all that will remain. Why do we continue to let predatory private developers and greedy landlords dictate our quality of life?
“Why do we continue to let predatory private developers and greedy landlords dictate our quality of life?” – Madeline R
Have you read the Comments posted here on the WSR? Your new “neighbors” are very supportive of tossing out long-term businesses, tossing out long-term residents, kicking the homeless to the curb, and segregating our schools (among other atrocities acceptable to them”.
Meet your New Neighbors on the New Upper West Side.
a fabulous restaurant with excellent food and fair prices. and you could hear your table guests rather than some shitty music.
I hope the landlords have this location as vacant for several years and that we don’t get another chain type store
This is so sad. We love Scarletta. We went often for dinner, our granddaughter had her Bat Mitzvah party there we only have happy memories. It was one of the very few places to eat that was calm and peaceful, where you could converse with friends and eat very good food.
Goodbye Freddie , we will sorely miss you and what your departure says about the neighborhood.
This is a disgrace
No one with a moral compass will patronize your replacement .
I don’t wish them well or even wish them.
My family and friends are devastated and sickened
I hope you relocate and tell us all where !!
Those with a moral compass are out with Scaletta; dinosaurs on the UWS.
What’s in is “the truth is we simply weren’t wanted. Our landlords coveted a shinier, fancier model in our place. To our landlord, as well as to many in NYC these days, a celebrity chef-owned chain, or private equity backed steakhouse sounds a lot sexier than a family-owned Italian joint.”
Welcome to the New UWS, where “many” covet a shinier fancier model that is A LOT SEXIER to them.
I think the only people “without a moral compass” are those who refuse to pay their fair share of rent, therefore artificially inflating the rent expenses of commercial and residential tenants.
You can’t simultaneously argue that landlords should be able to set the rent wherever they want and then invoke “fairness.” If it’s just a market situation and anyone who has the power to charge anything legally can, then the people on the other side of the equation are also free to use any power they have to pay less legally. “Fair share” is for those who believe people and businesses in communities have responsibilities to each other. It’s the height of self-abasement in front of capitalism to argue that a landlord can decide to earn whatever profit he wants, without any regard to impact to anyone else, AND that tenants have a MORAL responsibility to empty out their pockets to help him make that profit. If landlords have no responsibilities to us, then we have none to them.
in response to the ubiquitous Sherman:
“Tenants are already “free to use any power they have to pay less legally”.
It’s called supply and demand.
If they believe a landlord is charging to much rent then they don’t have to live in that building.”
this is an old saw. Employers use it to oppress workers — “well, you can get another job if you don’t like these wages.” And now Sherman has adopted this argument to the housing market.
As anyone who has taken Economics 101 knows, not everyone comes to the “free market” on equal footing and with equal clout. An individual renter is no match in market power with a big landlord. A single worker is no match for an employer.
this is why workers band together into unions, which, when they have enough presence in the market, are extraordinarily successful at getting wage and benefit concessions.
Tenants, in turn, have in NYC historically banded together into associations like the Met Council on Housing, to draft legislation and regulations that PROTECT tenants. Once again, as anyone who has taken Economics 102 knows, this is a form of “supply and demand” — group association.
The landlords, too, band together to get legislation and regulation that assists the rich landlords in making MORE money. Which they have every right to do. They have lobbying $s, we have voting power.
Sherman’s demand that working and middle class people “move to Staten Island” is actually an attack on living standards. People like living on the West Side, among other reasons, because of relatively short commutes and because of access to cultural amenities. Having to move 1 1/2 hours away is the economic equivalent of taking a large pay cut.
this is in line with the many attacks on the living standards and economic and political rights that the rich, upper classes, and right wing in general have launched on the lower and middle classes in the last few decades, and which are now intensifying.
Sherman’s agenda is very simple: make it harder for poor, working, and middle classes to have decent and special things in life… so the rich can have more, more, more.
Tenants are already “free to use any power they have to pay less legally”.
It’s called supply and demand.
If they believe a landlord is charging to much rent then they don’t have to live in that building.
If they believe the neighborhood is too expensive then they don’t have to live in that neighborhood.
If you’re too cheap to pay UWS rents then stop whining and move elsewhere that’s cheaper. Nobody is forcing you to live here and you do not have a divine right to live in a neighborhood you don’t want to pay the asking price for.
I hear Staten Island is cheaper. Maybe you should move there.
Sherman, wheat part of this don’t you understand:
“Yes, our rent had steadily climbed up, but no, it wasn’t the ultimate reason for our closing. In fact, we were willing to stomach yet another rent increase, and invest in gut renovating our space and committing to another decade or more.”
You are so blinded by your blind ideology that you totally missed:
“No, the truth is we simply weren’t wanted. Our landlords coveted a shinier, fancier model in our place. To our landlord, as well as to many in NYC these days, a celebrity chef-owned chain, or private equity backed steakhouse sounds a lot sexier than a family-owned Italian joint.”
It is you Sherman, who are “without a moral compass”, blinded by your ideology.
No Sherm that is not your Ideology.
You keep calling for long-term residents to be removed from their apartments, so they wealthier can benefit.
You want your neighbors gone.
That is your ideology.
If my “ideology” is that everyone should pay their fair share of rent rather then freeloading off others then I’m guilty as charged!
I am devastated!! Never expected to lose this wonderful restaurant. My family and I have dined there regularly for over 20 years, and have celebrated many special occasions as well. Not only is Scaletta a warm friendly space where you can have an extended conversation and hear one another, the meals have been consistently excellent.
I hope the landlord can’t find another tenant for like 5 or 6 years. How long has the old Food City on Columbus and 94th sat vacant now? How many millions in rent would they have paid in that time?
Civilized and quietly elegant (without piped in music.) It was our place to celebrate milestones in our lives. Irreplaceable!!
I hope there is a boycott of whatever business takes its place. I pray for the utter financial ruin of Equity landlord.
Scaletta has been part of our family for 25 years. Birthday parties (many); engagement party, bar mitzvah and more dinners with friends and family than I can count. This is truly a loss for our neighborhood and for us personally. Marti Reich and Jeffrey Glatzer
Six friends and I celebrated my birthday at Scaletta, a favorite of ours, just last week, deeply appreciate of the quiet, elegance, good food, and attentive service, and planning a return visit. Alas, again, landlords lacking class — it ought to become their motto.
Love it when people tell you how to run your business! Let the landlords run their business and you focus on running your restaurant. Perhaps you should have bought the property instead of renting!
Dear Freddy & Omer & family,
We are so saddened to hear that Scaletta will close. The neighborhood will never be the same — that is, unless you open in a nearby, new location! We can’t count the numerous family dinners we’ve enjoyed there, and we have treasured the friendships with you and the wonderful staff that developed over the years. We hope to see you somewhere new.
Madeline & Michael Silverman
Oh, so so so sad to hear that one of our favorite restaurants is closing under these circumstances. We have only wonderful memories of your restaurant like our daughter’s rehearsal dinner before her wedding and the wine dinner party that we had when you catered at home for us. Freddie never said no to us when we called even on a Saturday night. We love you, Scaletta. Helene and Chuck Klein
It was always a warm, welcoming restaurant, with tables spaced far enough apart so that people at a table could actual converse with others at the table. We have enjoyed eating there on many occasions, as well as hosted a reception in the private dining room, run by the gracious owners and their staff. Let the Landlord enjoys frolicking in his new glitzy and roomy empty space. We will NOT be going to any new restaurant he brings in.
Tragedy!!! Been going regularly for 25 years. Cannot comprehend why the landlord would do this if it is not a question of money.
Just had my birthday dinner there a month ago.Food and service delightful and quiet so people can hear one another even though the place was full. So sorry
So sorry to hear this. Westside Market. Lincoln Plaza Cinema. Etc etc etc.
Love(d) Scaletta! Had many wonderful meals there.
Any chance of reopening in the Empire Hotel’s space???? Ed’s Chowder was a bomb … love to have a terrific restaurant there!!!!!!
I am a Detroit resident with family in NYC. I valued Scaletta’s as a dining place where I could have my children and grandchildren for dinner and feel assured all of our idiosyncratic/health needs and wishes would be graciously and hospitably accommodated. Other out-of-towners to whom I recommended Scaletta’s share my appreciation. Best wishes for a happy future.
We hope that you reopen somewhere else and let us all know!. What a sad day for the UWS. Scaletta was our GO TO place for special family dinners. SHAME on the landlord for being so short sighted, unfeeling and just plain STUPID!!!
So upset about this. I loved Scaletta for the same reasons I loved the Four Seasons. Sure, the food may not have been at the same level, but the service was just as professional. A wonderful neighborhood gem.
The last time I was there I saw Paul Simon, who I mistook for his brother Eddie – a little embarrassing to say the least.
Very nice letter to your patrons. Very sad to see Scaletta close. I, too, am sickened each day as I walk the UWS, seeing the daily increase of FOR RENT signage & empty storefronts. Along with it, are the increasingly filthy sidewalks, trash blowing everywhere. What the heck has happened to the UWS the past couple of years?
This was a very good restaurant and will be missed but isn’t there another way to look at the owner’s statement about all the vacant storefronts?
Why can’t they just rent one and move?
The Berk Family is saddened by the sudden closing of Scaletta. Fred and Omer have been wonderful hosts to our family Foundation meetings and family dinners. Hopefully, you will find another space where we can meet again.
We love Scaletta and have eaten there for years, and often. It is one of the few restaurants that is quiet enough to meet with friends, has consistently delicious food and wonderful friendly service. We even had our daughters Sweet 16 Party at this restaurant in the back room. Soooo very sad to hear this and would love to see them open somewhere in our neighborhood again, PLEASE!!!!!!
Greedy Greedy landlords strike again!! This wonderful restaurant is an institution on the upper West side. Freddy and Omer are the best and always made their diners feel welcomed. So nice going out to dinner there knowing you could talk to Friends and family at the table without having to yell or listen to unnecessary/noisy music. Freddy and Omer, you will be very much missed!
Love you guys!!! Another home gone.
Lovely charming people. Even though they had many Passover seders planned the landlords forced them to close early stranding many Jewish patrons. Good luck expecting any of us to patronize a new place
The owners clearly stated that the rent level wasn’t an issue. They also added that a gut renovation was necessary to continue under a new lease. So talking about predatory private developers and greedy landlords is nonsense.
It seems like the owners and landlord came to a mutual understanding that after a great 30-year run, it was time to wind down. Otherwise, it would be convenient for the owners to blame it on the rent.
Thirty years is a really long run in the restaurant business. Not everything can go on forever. The owners aren’t youngsters anymore and were on cruise control. How can any restaurant with supposedly moderate prices survive by being open only for dinner from 5-10PM? From what I hear, the customers were mostly local long-timers on the older side. It wasn’t exactly a place that would attract new customers, especially with those operating hours. When your clientele is aging and younger ones aren’t making your establishment a destination, your days are numbered.
The landlord probably rightly sized up the situation and decided that he didn’t want to take a chance for another 10 years with their business model.
And for those who call for boycotting its replacement, shame on you for wishing that a new local business fail.
What part of their letter makes you think it was a mutual agreement?
“The owners clearly stated that the rent level wasn’t an issue. They also added that a gut renovation was necessary to continue under a new lease. So talking about predatory private developers and greedy landlords is nonsense.
It seems like the owners and landlord came to a mutual understanding that after a great 30-year run, it was time to wind down. Otherwise, it would be convenient for the owners to blame it on the rent.”
Hey Woody, is lying the new Truth to you?
Regarding your questioning of the hours…
You seem unaware that during the day, the restaurant was a typically used for private functions such as bar mitzvah parties, showers etc
I was not aware of that and nothing on their website indicates their availability for daytime functions. Since you’re so familiar with their daily operations, maybe you can tell us the frequency of such events that provided additional revenue. You might be accurate but that doesn’t change the landlord’s perception of where their business was headed.
A landlord has to think much longer term than a tenant that’s not investing in renovations and/or expansion of hours. When things go downhill, that tenant can just walk away and leave the landlord holding the bag. And chances are that the tenant didn’t pay rent for a while while trying to work out problems until he finally capitulates.
I think you hit the nail on the head. What we are witnessing is a definite sea change on the traditional UWS tastes. The newer residents do not have the same tastes or needs. Sorry but that’s the way it is. All the tea in China isn’t going to change that.
Yes, the restaurateur acknowledged that:
“to many in NYC these days, a celebrity chef-owned chain, or private equity backed steakhouse sounds a lot sexier than a family-owned Italian joint…Lord knows we can use another chopped salad joint around here.”
Soon we will be left with choices of Shake Shacks and Olive Gardens.
Landlord greed killed a good part of neighborhood.
I wish the city will provide at lest something for business like this to survive. “Affordable “ lease or something like that.
Sherman, we already know your opinion, no need to reiterate.
I don’t think you should be lecturing anyone about “greed”.
Because Sherman believes that Greed is Good, you know:
Supply and Demand
My favorite Scaletta story was told to me by a friend who lived nearby and a was a regular. She and her husband were dining there on a Sunday night some 15 or 20 years ago when who should sweep in but Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Donna Karan, together for a girls-night-out dinner. My friend immediately telephoned her adult daughter and said, “I don’t care if you’re already in your pajamas. You’ll want to get dressed and come and join Daddy and me for this!”
In our family Scaletta’s was known as Sharon’s kitchen. (I’m Sharon.) It was our go-to place.
We thank, you, Omar and Freddie, and wish you well.
We have many fond memories of dinners at Scaletta.
Yes there were celebrities but there were also neighbors.
Thanks for the memories!
It is really sad to see yet another long time business closing its doors to due imminent greed from landlords.. I moved here 8 years ago and live near 68th and Broadway and amazed that commercial real estate raises rents, businesses vacate but yet they remain empty for years. Seems that you would want some rent rather than nothing. Instead we open another bank, medical facility and not even giving the community what it needs. You know when a Starbucks closes that rents are getting ridiculous.
Another, iconic, family-operated neighborhood restaurant will soon fade from our reality to our memory.
Scaletta was our “home kitchen” for a gazillion family celebrations for the past 20 years. The night before Thanksgiving, will never be the same.
Freddy, Omer, Raddy, Speedy, Peppy and other staff will remain our close friends and we sincerely hope that Scaletta re-appears on the UWS!
Marc, Rose and Shayne Minick
Someone please tell me what the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the NYC Small Business Services and the local Business Improvement are doing to help long time businesses not get booted out by greedy landlords.
“Someone please tell me what the…local Business Improvement are doing to help long time businesses not get booted out by greedy landlords.” UWS
They’re running a fundraiser for themselves (and not the community schools) on May 18-19. Some kinda’ Tasteless on the Upper West Side.
Will always be special to me and my family. Had my wedding reception there 🙁
Scaletta has been a neighborhood gem. Really depressing to hear of the loss of another neighborhood restaurant.
It has been the place for many family dinners and special celebrations. The owners and staff have been so kind and gracious. It was one of the few restaurants left that was welcoming to our elderly relatives.
Not new news but continues to be astounding to see luxury real estate destroy NYC neighborhoods….Chipotle Trader Joe’s Dunkin Donuts l’Occitane Soul Cycle – the Upper West Side has become a mall for suburban transplants.
You’re sooo right & on target! UWS used to be a collection of neighborly businesses & people. Now starting to resemble the fancy, fancy elitist UES!!!
With New Values closer to Beverly Hills.
How come all these UES small businesses attempt to branch out on the UWS and close then? I think that the customer demographic is different in the UWS. There seems to be a price point that we are not willing to go over here.
“Scaletta Ristorante to Close After 30 Years” is the headline.
Saying that “There seems to be a price point that we are not willing to go over here.” is not true. The owners were will to pay the rent increase and even pay for a gut renovation. They were successful!
This Trumpian Golden Age of unreasoned discourse should be beaten down with heavy sticks.
Freddie & Omer,
Please open in a new location. Everything about Scaletta is great, the food, atmosphere, staff, and general friendliness! This is a huge loss to our neighborhood!
Let me be perfectly clear….Equity Residential, you suck.. Part of the mission vanishing New York.. These real estate goons
who think they can rule the neighborhoods..and alter our rich, historic culture… Guess what ? We’ve got your number…. Times up !