After 130 Years, The Oldest Cheese Shop In The US Is Closing

After slicing up wedges of Grana Padano and Asiago for customers for 130 years, America's oldest cheese shop is preparing to close its doors in New York City's Little Italy. Alleva Dairy is known for its selection of Italian cheeses and the ricotta and mozzarella it makes in-house. According to its website, the iconic cheese shop makes fresh mozzarella daily.

Its excellent selection of Italian cheeses isn't the only way Alleva Dairy sets itself apart from other stores. Alleva Dairy also sells deli meat by the pound such as Prosciutto di Parma, genoa salami, and capicola. Those Italian meats and cheeses can also be found on sandwiches made at the shop, such as the flavorful Bronx, made of hot sopressata, mortadella, provolone, hot peppers, roasted peppers, and balsamic. Other sandwiches are named after NYC neighborhoods, such as Manhattan with roast beef and turkey and the Soho with fried eggplant cutlets and fresh mozzarella.

After 13 decades of serving New Yorkers, Alleva Dairy has become a destination for cheese lovers in the city. Ever since it was founded in 1892 by Italian immigrant Pina Alleva, the business has remained in the family. With so much history, it was a difficult decision for owner Karen King to make to close the shop after it fell into debt, reports New York Post.

Store is set to close on March 5

Alleva Dairy agreed to close its doors on March 5 after coming to an agreement with its landlord, who would not make them pay their back rent totaling more than $600,000 if they vacated the location at 188 Grand St., as reported by New York Post. According to owner Karen King, the cheese shop fell behind on its monthly rent payments of $23,756 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The business has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

King told the New York Post she took measures to right Alleva Dairy's financial situation such as cutting staff pay and asking for government assistance, but it wasn't enough to recover. Eater New York also reported that Alleva Dairy attempted to raise funds via a GoFundMe page to pay off its debts before deciding to close. The GoFundMe Page says Alleva Dairy's financial problems began in March 2020 near the start of the pandemic when Little Italy saw few tourists and an overall lack of foot traffic. 

"Alleva is the oldest cheese shop in America, the heartbeat of Little Italy, and a New York institution," Karen King was quoted on the GoFundMe Page. "The pandemic devastated my business. I have yet to see the Federal or State grants that were talked about for our community." Despite the best efforts of King and her loyal customers, the days for Alleva Dairy are, unfortunately, numbered.