Cheese is one of the most popular food items in the United States. It is a convenient food and can be used in a variety of dishes, making it a staple in many US households. Be it for making lip-smacking snacks or as a topping for pizzas, burgers and sandwiches – Americans simply cannot do without cheese! It is safe to say that cheese has become an integral part of the American diet, and many people have developed a strong attachment to it. However, a recent development might be quite disheartening for all the cheese lovers out there. The oldest cheese shop in the USA is set to shut down after 130 years, after months of financial struggles and court battles.
According to NBC, a cheese shop called Alleva Dairy in Manhattan’s Little Italy (considered to be the oldest in the US) is set to shut down, after its owners struggled to pay the rent during the Covid-19 pandemic. The report further states that the cheese shop has less than a month to leave the only location it has known in its 130-year history. “We’re supposed to be out by March 5,” owner Karen King reportedly stated.
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King bought the store a decade ago with her husband, who was born and raised in Little Italy. “His name was Cha Cha and he was the unofficial mayor of Little Italy,” said King. When Cha Cha died in 2015, King made it her mission to keep the shop open. But in 2020, when the pandemic hit, several businesses in the tourism industry were hit hard by the shutdowns. “There was literally like no one on the streets but we decided that we had to do something,” she said.
Businesses slowly picked up as the pandemic receded, especially as the shop expanded to serve ready-made meals and sandwiches. “It helped but it didn’t bring in the money that I needed for the rent,” King said. The shop engaged in a months-long legal battle with its landlord over $500,000 in unpaid rent. Later, the shop filed for bankruptcy as the fundraising efforts did not yield enough to pay the rent.
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In April 2022, King said she was willing to pay the rent, but wanted more time to do so. The landlord agreed to forgive the shop’s debt, but insisted that they must leave the building. “I’m heartbroken. My heart is broken but I’m a fighter,” King said. She also added that she still had some hope that something could help save the store.
King said that she hopes she’s able to open the cheese shop elsewhere. She wasn’t sure about how the shop would look, but said that it wouldn’t be the same as the shop that has been selling cheese since 1892.
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