Larchmont Village has been buzzing with talk about how to help Village Pizzeria, a 24-year veteran of the neighborhood, thorough the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have previously reported, Village Pizzeria’s owner, Steve Cohen, has been struggling to find a new way to operate the beloved restaurant, which, like so many small businesses and many Larchmont neighbors, is trying to find a way to do business safely while unable to fully re-open.
Recently, Cohen took to social media to ask his customers to sign a petition showing their support for the restaurant while he’s trying to re-negotiate his lease with the American Commercial Equities, LLC., a subsidiary of Public Storage, the owner of his building. He’s hoping the show of community support will demonstrate his viability and persuade his landlord to give him a break on the rent.
Cohen posted this message on Instagram:
“For months we’ve been struggling to keep up with the insane demands that this pandemic has brought upon us. We know a lot of you are in similar situations, struggling to pay rents and various overhead costs, as are we. We’ve tried in good faith to negotiate a fair deal with our landlord for 6 months to no avail, and unfortunately we may fall victim to what 1 in 5 small businesses have already faced- permanent closure. We know a lot of you will miss your local favorites when they’re gone, so now’s the time to take action. We really don’t know if this petition will work, in the end our landlord has final say, but we would love and truly appreciate if you could come down and show your support by signing. By the end of this year, there will be at least 30 empty stores on our beloved Larchmont… please help us not be one of them. Thank you, and pizza love to all☮️❤️🍕 -Steve and the VP family/crew
Cohen says the response to the campaign has been overwhelming. He reports that more than 3,500 people have signed, either at the restaurant or online, and he deeply appreciates the help of Larchmont Village resident Zoe Zoldan, who set up the petition on Change.org.
CD4 Councilmember David Ryu is trying to help too. As he said in an e-mail to the Buzz earlier this week:
“Village Pizzeria is a beloved local restaurant that has been in Larchmont for over 24 years. The owner, Steve Cohen, has been doing everything possible to stay afloat during this difficult time. He has worked to negotiate a fair lease with Village Pizzeria’s landlord, American Commercial Equities, LLC. My office reached out directly to the landlord on behalf of Village Pizzeria, and I am incredibly disappointed to see that they have refused to cooperate in any meaningful way.
During a pandemic that has put millions of people out of work, and led to the permanent closure of tens of thousands of small businesses, landlords should be willing to work together with commercial tenants, and negotiate fair compromises for the good of our community.”
Cohen told us all the support has given him strength to keep going, but he’s still facing real challenges since his business is down about 60 precent from pre-pandemic levels.
For those who would like to be of even more help than just signing the petition, a local attorney who is familiar with the situation told us the best thing the neighborhood can do is to buy more pizza. So if you’d like to pitch in, Village Pizzeria is open Wednesday through Sunday 3 p.m. – 8 p.m., and a bit later Fridays and Saturdays.
Village Pizzeria Larchmont 🍕