After being open since 1893 and helping to introduce the "hero" sandwich to American mouths, Hell's Kitchen's Manganaro Grosseria Italiana is on the market and will soon be closing, The Wall Street Journal reports that the family has put the building up for sale for $5.3 million, and will be closing the restaurant as soon as it's sold. "We've had it," said Sal Dell'Orto, who has been working at the Grosseria since he was five.
Sal's brother James runs Manganaro's Hero-Boy next door, which will remain open. The Grosseria expanded with the hero shop in the '50s, a move which led to a dispute among the four brothers in the family and eventually led to a property split. And as Hero-Boy thrived, the Grosseria struggled. At one point the Grosseria tried to overturn Hero-Boy's trademark, but litigation ended in the Grosseria owing hundreds of thousands to Hero-Boy, which stripped them of the cash to invest in their own business. James Dell'Orto said, "It really is a bit heartbreaking to see that a way of life is gone. There was craftsmanship in the Italian deli business. That craftsmanship is gone. Everything today is very much regimented and packaged."
The Grosseria was popular among the lunchtime crowd in the neighborhood, but in recent years the counter was growing empty. One Yelp reviewer wrote, "Nine years ago, I worked a block away and Manganaro and Manganaro's Hero Boy were places we often went for lunch...The same lady who has been there for years was there. She is nasty, there is no way around it. I am in the service industry, and it's kind of tough to deal with her. It was also kind of tough to pay $12 for my lunchmeat sandwich. The sandwich was amazing, just as I remembered. But how does a place like this stay in business in the days of Yelp?" Apparently, it doesn't.