The other day we reported that Via Tribunali, the pizza restaurant at 122 Ludlow St., had closed. Over the weekend we got more details from Christopher Gelber, development director from the Seattle-based company that runs both Via Tribunali and Caffe Vita, a growing gourmet coffee purveyor.
The decision was made to close Via Tribunali’s one New York location after Community Board 3 declined to support a full liquor license. The restaurant settled for a beer and wine permit when it opened in 2012, and hoped to upgrade. In Seattle, Gelber explained, liquor sales at the restaurant’s four locations are robust, making the businesses viable. Another factor was the stiff competition in New York. While the Neopolitan pizza was well received, the Lower East Side spot did not become a go-to spot for the Big Apple’s pizza aficionados. Since the lease on Ludlow Street was coming up for renewal, it was decided the time was right to call it quits.
Meanwhile, the company is focusing on its core mission — growing Caffe Vita. Gelber said the coffee shop at 124 Ludlow St. is doing very well and will remain open. An on site roaster is operating beyond capacity, servicing the Lower East Side store as well as a rapidly expanding East Coast wholesale operation. Caffe Vita has a multi-million dollar contract to supply coffee at JFK Airport.
A larger roasting facility and adjoining coffee shop are under construction now on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. You can read more about that here.