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Grimaldi’s is saved for now — but will be booted next year

The Brooklyn Paper
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Grimaldi’s won the battle, but pizza lovers have lost the war.

The owner of the building housing the famous DUMBO pizzeria was ordered by a judge today to accept late rent payments and allow the coal-oven joint to remain at its Old Fulton Street location — but the landlord says that she will kick out the late-paying restaurant when its lease expires in November, 2011.

But today’s news — the stay of execution by Judge Robin Shears — was as satsifying as a Grimaldi’s pie for owner Frank Ciolli.

“There is a God!” he said as he left the Downtown courtroom. “We’re staying in Brooklyn. Let’s go have some pizza.”

The decision came as a surprise to the landlord’s son, Mark Waxman, and his attorney, Darryl Vernon, because a 2008 contract between the parties stipulated that Grimaldi’s would be evicted if Ciolli was ever late on payments again.

And he has been late — multiple times this year, in fact. And in 2008, Ciolli was briefly shut down by the state due to $165,000 in unpaid taxes, though the restaurant was quickly reopened.

Despite Ciolli’s win on Friday, Waxman has said that he and his mom will not renew the Grimaldi’s lease and will take control of the location’s rare coal-burning oven — which is valuable because such ovens are illegal except where they existed before the city ban.

“We are looking at other [tenants] who will continue to make pizza and be good for the community,” Waxman, son of the 87-year-old landlord Dorothy Waxman, said at the hearing.

Ciolli admitted that he was late on payments in July — a total of around $66,000, which includes replenishing Ciolli’s security deposit that he lost in civil court cases in 2008. According to the settlement that year, the late payments would justify Ciolli’s eviction, but the judge disagreed.

Ciolli was calm during the hearing, but things got heated — and even physical — between him and Waxman during a recess. The two had given their cases, and Ciolli was livid, pointing a finger in Waxman’s face and yelling.

“This is a stab in the back — this is bulls—t!” Ciolli yelled, eye-to-eye with Waxman. “You don’t know who you’re dealin’ with. But you’ll find out soon enough. You’re buying yourself a lawsuit.”

Then Ciolli turned and ripped a camera — which was capturing the circus — out of a reporter’s hand before he went back into the courtroom as other reporters gasped at the brazen move.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

K. from ArKady says:
Hey, no offense Andy, but _coal_ burning? Really? The whole point of a wood fired brick oven is that the wood smoke flavours the crust. A coal fired pizza oven would make your pie taste like sulfur and diesel. I remember Grimaldi's as being a pretty good slice, not a tar-ry sulfur-y mess. Not as good as mine though (grin).
Aug. 13, 2010, 3:02 pm
ad from evillage says:
I would be pretty heaved as well if my tenants owed me >60k!
Aug. 13, 2010, 5:29 pm
Pizza lover says:
In this economy, the landlord should be happy it's rented. Many other building on the block are sitting empty and people are trying to make it. The landlord should be greatul that even though the rent is late, it's being paid. We are all feeling the pain of this economy.
Aug. 13, 2010, 7:25 pm
pizza boy says:
K. Anthracite coal is the type used today, it is clean burning and have no real detectable levels of sulfur. In fact, it is the cleanest of ALL solid burning fuels. You are thinking about the older coal that was used in schools and power plants years back. If you look at one of these places that use this coal, peer at the roof stack, you will see no smoke or soot, other then when they light the oven in the morning, because the use wood to get it going. Coal affords the high steady heat, for longer between refills. Take a look http://btpellet.com/coal_fuel

Cheers,
Aug. 13, 2010, 8:36 pm
K. from Dumbo says:
@Pizza lover, how would you feel if your paycheck was a week late all the time? Would you still feel happy you have a job? If the guy said he'd pay rent on the first of each month, he should do it. In the meantime, I'm getting some more pizza, if they aren't paying the rent, it's going to cost me less.
Aug. 13, 2010, 9:45 pm
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Never again will I grab a pie from this knucklescraper's establishment.

Can't wait till his soggy ass pizza is out of there and someone who knows how to make a pie, treat their customers properly, and pay their rent on time will occupy the space.

Every since this jerk took over from Patsy, the place has gone downhill in a big way. Good riddance.
Aug. 13, 2010, 9:50 pm
Diggerati says:
"According to the settlement that year, the late payments would justify Ciolli’s eviction, but the judge disagreed."

The judge who disagreed and ruled against enforcing the terms of a settlement has an interesting approach to the administration of justice. According to news reports,
"Top court administrators transferred Judge Robin Sheares to Brooklyn Civil Court for violations of the state Code of Judicial Conduct - including biased behavior in her tirades and decisions from the bench, sources said." (NY Daily News-BY William Sherman DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Thursday, July 15th 2010, 4:00 AM-
Judge Robin Sheares, who jailed mom for keeping son from visiting rapist dad, transferred)
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/07/15/2010-07-15_judge_transferred_after_jailing_mom.html#ixzz0wYCnUsMP

This was after she was ruled unfit to serve by screening panels-- "the New York City and Brooklyn Bar Associations when she ran for election to Civil Court in 2006."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/07/02/2010-07-02_judge_who_jailed_ma_unfit_to_serve_panels.html#ixzz0wYE4ma1U

One wonders what legal reasoning led her to arrive at the slice of jurisprudence she served up today.
Aug. 13, 2010, 11:30 pm
Great Job! says:
I hate coal pizza. When I was little, that was all we got, parents came home and said, "Come an' get your coal pizza!" And you were lucky to get that coal pizza, you'd try to get it right between when it was cold and hot. Ah....
Aug. 14, 2010, 8:45 am
K. from ArKady says:
@pizza boy : Thank you, I stand corrected; they really do seem to be using coal. That's crazy IMHO, the whole point of the thing is to get the wood smoke. I use rosemary wood and leaves, very aromatic and good enough for a regular oven with a pizza stone. Rosemary is a common shrub here in ArKady.
Aug. 14, 2010, 12:31 pm
pizzaboy says:
@K: You are correct, coal does not give any flavor to the pie, just high steady heat and the natural carmelization that comes from such a high heat which yields a smokey flavor. Wood, leaves, etc will add to the flavor of the pizza. Pizza is a great food, so many types of ovens, fuels, baking methods, it keeps it interesting. on a side note, I think the judge is way off base. They are supposed to uphold contract law, there was a contract in place from a previous default, should have been clear cut, unless he was able to show just cause for not paying the rent he should have been evicted. Too many people play the system, and if you follow this guy news, his John street deal fell apart with the landlord alleging non payment.
Aug. 14, 2010, 7:06 pm
Bob Scott from B Heights says:
The financial honesty of any retail business that operates as CASH only is presumed to be doubtful.
Aug. 14, 2010, 10:47 pm
BushwickPoopStain from New Jersey? says:
Maybe we should rely on credit? You know,

since it's so great and all.
Aug. 15, 2010, 1:40 am
Bob Scott from Brooklyn Heights says:
I don't suggest that consumers rely on credit. But merchants who accept cash only often do so to hide revenue from the tax man; a landlord who rents to a thief shouldn't be surprised when he gets screwed.
Aug. 15, 2010, 8:03 am
cash is king says:
from a small business point of view, cash is king... there are many reasons to operate this way if your a mom and pop operation, not all are for tax reasons. a mom and pop could end up paying 2, 3 and up to 5 percent of their sales in processing fees and other surcharges, plus you now deal with another company that tells you how to run your business. Goldman Sachs only paid 1% in taxes last year through accounting magic, how many hundreds of millions did they not pay in taxes? Yet they profit 100 million a day by front running alone. Gotta keep your eye on the ball, its not the small guy you have to be concerned with because he only accepts cash, the bigger fish are doing a better job on America, legally they claim. Guess what, the mom and pop you just paid cash to didn't put you in debt by charging it and paying minimums are many are doing today. The guy didn't pay his rent and should have been evicted unless there was good cause as outlined in his lease, period.
Aug. 15, 2010, 10:09 am
adam from what differenc says:
cash is king.....fees here, fees there....why is someone a crook when they just deal with cash? If everyone dealt cash only we all would be in a better place
Aug. 15, 2010, 11:43 am
Bob Scott from B Heights says:
Restaurants that take credit cards generally ring up bigger sales. Remember how cabbies bellyached that they'd loose money to credit card fees? Not anymore -- they discovered that card-carrying customers left bigger tips!

So ignorance is one reason sone mom and pops still won't take plastic. A desire to hide sales from the taxman is another.
Aug. 15, 2010, 7:03 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
the bottom line is "don't screw with the landlord...end of story.
Aug. 16, 2010, 10:57 am
teegee from sunset park says:
A NYT article quoted a nutritionist who said a person could live and be healthy on a diet of only new york pizza - new york because of the cheese that was used.

the only unhealthy thing about pizza is the toppings and ones with processed "fake" cheeses.
Aug. 16, 2010, 11:01 am
cash is king says:
@ bob Scott: That is likely true, i can't argue that, but at some point you get eaten up alive as a small business in today's society. Everyone is in your pocket and even worse, the legal system to top it off. If everyone would deal in cash, less people would be in debt, and the big machine that controls our lives would crumble. If you have even done business in NYC, dealing with each and every department is a joke. Law after law, regulation after regulation, tax after tax, surcharge after surcharge, i could go on forever. Then when you think you got it figured out, they change everything.So yes, your point is true, but can you blame them, every time you say okay to some agency, they own you. If you look at most of the mom and pop operations that accept cash only, there are a lot of really great places that wouldn't exist otherwise, for whatever the reason. Sometime the cash edge, makes the difference. Something is really wrong in the country, and it is getting worse, not the place it once was and will be forever changed. Very sad.....
Aug. 18, 2010, 10:22 am
richie rich from parkslope says:
we will welcome Grimaldi in parkslope 2011.
Aug. 18, 2010, 12:16 pm
Dewsh from Bath Beach says:
@ richie
....but with what coal oven?? Grimaldis will be just another pizza place without their gimmick
Aug. 20, 2010, 12:33 pm
Gina from Bensonhurst says:
Ciolli is an alcoholic womanizing narcissist.
June 29, 2011, 8:20 am

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