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America’s oldest cheese located in NYC shop closing: ‘Heartbeat of Little Italy’

News of this business closure really stinks!

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

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

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

Allevia was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating about $628,00 dollars in back rent since the start of the pandemic.

King said she and the landlord ultimately reached an agreement releasing her of the shop’s substantial financial debt as long as she vacates the Little Italy spot next month.

Avella Dairy’s last day on its Little Italy corner, where it was established in 1892, will be March 5, King said.

Alleva Dairy has been at its 188 Grand Street spot since 1892.
Christian Johnston

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

The longstanding cheese connoisseur has not only drawn generations of families to its long menu of Italian delicacies, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, cured meats and cannoli’s, but Avella’s Dairy was also known to attract famous faces from around the world.

Leah Remini, Michael Imperioli, Alice Cooper and Joey Reynolds are just a few of Avella’s celebrity customers. Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco was a huge fan of the shop’s sausage and peppers and negotiation expert Herb Cohen was known to practice his craft in the store.

“It’s a loss. It’s sad that a store like that has to go under. Alleva was a great store. It was all about the food,” Actor Chaz Palminteri, who frequented Alleva Dairy when he was in Little Italy, told The Post Tuesday.

Karen King, owner of Alleva Dairy-Cheese store, posing in front of her business Alleva Dairy-Cheese store.
Owner Karen King said the “pandemic devastated my business.”
Christopher Sadowski

“The place looked the same for over 100 years. How can it not be there after so many years?”

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

The mozzarella merchant began struggling to make its $23,756 monthly rent payments during the early months of the global crisis as business slowed substantially from both individual customers and local eateries.

Avella strived to dig itself out of the hole, but couldn’t keep up with its landlord’s demands. In April 2022, Jerome G. Stabile III Realty filed a suit in Manhattan Supreme Court asking permission to evict the shop if they were unable to pay off its debts.

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

King did everything in her power to keep the historic cheese shop open, including cutting staff pay and begging the government for help.

“I’ve written letters extensively to Senators and government officials. We met with the Governor’s office and got lip service,” King said. “Chinatown got money. A museum across the street from me got a million dollars. My question is, when are businesses like mine going to get their fair share?”

“The pandemic devastated my business,” King explains.

In spite of the gut-wrenching loss, King is looking toward the future of the notorious cheese shop.

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

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