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November 8, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Downtown / Brooklyn Is Awesome

Shake Shack is coming — so say farewell to a Brooklyn pizza guy

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Shake Shack is coming to Brooklyn, and a longtime Downtown lunchtime favorite is getting the boot in the process.

The owner of Tony’s Famous Pizzeria — who served pie and shakes for more than 20 years at the corner of Fulton and Adams streets — was not offered a new lease, setting the stage for the Manhattan-based burger interloper to move in.

Everyone, including Borough President Markowitz, has been celebrating the news — everyone except real Brooklynite Sal Casaccio, owner of Tony’s.

“We got caught in the flood of landlords trying to bring in so-called big business — I can’t believe they’re taking this building from us,” Casaccio said last week. “This location was like dating Pam Anderson. How can you replace Pam Anderson?”

Markowitz, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Joe Chan and celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer rallied in front of Borough Hall to hail the iconic restaurant on Tuesday, calling the Shake Shack move a victory for “local business.”

Chan said that he helped Casaccio find a new spot on Fulton Mall near Bond Street, but nobody — not even Brooklyn’s cheerleader Markowitz — said they’d ever tried to defend Tony’s territory.

“There has to be a balance,” Markowitz said. “We welcome the new business. As far as the old business, keep in mind that private property owners have a right to renew the lease or not. If this fella [Casaccio] wants to stay in business, there are other spaces in Downtown he can seek out.”

Meanwhile, Casaccio says he’ll begrudgingly move to his new location as early as next week.

Tony’s Famous Pizzeria’s new real estate near the new City Point tower construction site will still be prime — but Casaccio and his customers can’t see why a Brooklyn staple has to make way for Manhattan business.

“I eat here all the time, it’s my favorite spot,” said Sal Ganucci. “These [Shake Shack] guys could’ve taken any one of these unused buildings on Fulton Mall. Instead they’re just gentrifying the only good pizza in town.”

The move is all part of Fulton Mall’s big push for new business. Shake Shack — which does well at its swank Madison Square location, among others — will join the likes of H&M, Sephora, Filene’s Basement and Aeropostale to begin to change the face of Fulton Mall to what some developers want it to be: a high-class example of urban renewal filled with ritzy retailers and wealthy shoppers.

More on this story when the Shake Shack people actually call us back.

Updated 8:44 pm, November 10, 2010: Corrects Andy Campbell's complete misunderstanding of Manhattan. But, hey, that's OK with us.
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Reader Feedback

Michael from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Shake Shack's "swank Union Square location"? Don't you mean Madison Square Park location?
Nov. 8, 2010, 4:30 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
The big unanswered question is, will you be getting mugged while waiting for your burger, or will the muggers wait until after you have your food to "shake" you down?
Nov. 8, 2010, 4:31 pm
John from PS says:
yes this area needs major improvement
Nov. 8, 2010, 7:18 pm
Leon from Brooklyn Heights says:
I feel for any business that's unwillingly forced out, but Tony's had the worst (and most overpriced) pizza in the area by far. My Little Pizzeria is only a few blocks away and serves a vastly superior and cheaper pie.

I'm looking forward to Shake Shack. Hopefully this is just the first wave in making the Fulton Mall less of a dump.
Nov. 8, 2010, 7:52 pm
DJM from CROWN HEIGHTS says:
—— SHake Shack.
F*ck Marty Markowitz
Fu%k greedy developers turning a historical
borough ( BROOKLYN ) into a ——-ass shopping mall
F*ck carpetbagging retailers
..and Fu$k you, John from PS.
Nov. 8, 2010, 7:57 pm
Marie from Brooklyn Heights says:
This location is literally one block from the Brooklyn Heights border, and very close to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. I highly doubt it's a prime mugging spot. I guess when you are from glamorous "Bay Ridge" it's hard to judge.
Nov. 9, 2010, 2:51 am
Joseph from Brooklyn says:
I thought the idea was to bring new bussiness in, not to replace an existing bussiness with another one.
Nov. 9, 2010, 11:36 am
Joseph from Brooklyn Heights says:
If you're going to upgrade the area, why not get rid of those obnoxious cell phone stores that have these idiots yelling in your ear "Free phone! Free Phone!"
Nov. 9, 2010, 11:40 am
Antonio from Downtown says:
@ Leon,

Yea can say whatever you want about the pizza but there only reason your happy shake shack is coming is because maybe now you will have more than 5 people in your store during lunch time. And if the pizza is so expensive and bad why are there just so many damn people in there at lunch time? Jealousy is a horrible trait.
Nov. 9, 2010, 11:44 am
Darnel from Brooklyn heights says:
Pronto Pizza - Albanians
Court St Nameless pizza - Spanish
Metro cafe - Spanish
Tonys famous pizza - Italians

Enough said about the best pizza in Brooklyn.
Nov. 9, 2010, 11:52 am
Leon from Brooklyn Heights says:
@Antonio

I'm not a small business owner, nor do I work for one. The arrival of Shake Shack doesn't benefit me in any way other than giving me another burger option when I don't feel like Five Guys.

I'm just someone who lives nearby who thinks Downtown Brooklyn, and the Fulton Mall in particular, is in dire need of some good ol' fashioned gentrification. Currently, it's a dump, but I'm hopeful that Shake Shack marks the start of a new wave of higher end businesses and services.

To answer your question, Tony's does decent lunchtime business (are they even open after 6?) only because of the prominent and convenient location. No one goes out of their way to get pizza at Tony's. You could replace it with generic slice shop and do the exact same amount of business.

Oh, and Darnel--the best pizza in Brooklyn is either Difara in Midwood, Totonno's in Coney, or Lucali in Carroll Gardens. Tony's isn't the even the best pizza in the neighborhood.
Nov. 9, 2010, 5:23 pm
Antonio says:
Quoting Leon,

"My Little Pizzeria is only a few blocks away and serves a vastly superior and cheaper pie."

Quoting Leon,

"I'm not a small business owner, nor do I work for one. I'm just someone who lives nearby...."

If this was a court case, this is the part where your lawyer would start to ask for a plea deal. How can your opinion matter, if you cant even keep your story straight.
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:42 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
I don't have any problem with Markowitz embarrassing himself, which he does daily, but does he have to embarrass the rest of us, too?

"Private property owners have a right to renew the lease or not?" Markowitz didn't seem to concerned about people's private property when Bruce Ratner wanted some of it.
Nov. 10, 2010, 10:07 am
Leon from Brooklyn Heights says:
@ Antonio

What "story" are you talking about? The name of the pizza shop on Court st that I referred to is called "My Little Pizzeria". The "My" is part of the name--it's not like I'm implying ownership of that slice shop.

Of course, if you lived around here or knew the neighborhood you'd know that.

Next time do a little research before you embaress yourself.
Nov. 10, 2010, 11:04 am
fsrg from PS says:
Sal should man up and stop whining like a pu$$y. Sal likely could have tried to renegotiate his lease (and extended it) years ago when the LL probably would have been way more amenable but instead he likely took his chances and lost. Tough; Grow up - Its business. I dont see Sal giving away his products, he (rightfully) does what he has to to (charges alot for a relatively lousy slice) to maximize his profits and the LL is doing the same.
Nov. 10, 2010, 12:44 pm
Antonio says:
@ Leon

You had me beat right up until the point you spelled embarrass wrong.

@ fsrg,

Stop outside the store at 7:05 pm and watch the homeless people hanging out outside waiting for all the pizza Tony's gives them at the end of the night.
Nov. 10, 2010, 1:24 pm
Leon from Brooklyn Heights says:
@ Antonio

Wow, one small spelling error on my part. At least you can admit that I'm 100% correct otherwise.

By the way, since we're being petty, care to count how many spelling and grammatical errors you made?

I'll give you a hint: sometimes it's "you're" and not "your".

Anyway, good luck in your new location.
Nov. 10, 2010, 2:47 pm
J from Brooklyn says:
Beyond pathetic how Markowitz fails to recognize the importance of small business owners.
Nov. 10, 2010, 5 pm
Bob Scott from Brooklyn says:
I can't speak to Tony's quality, but fact is the location has been underutilized. There's a whole neighborhood — business and residential — on that side of Boerum Place that didn't exist 10 years ago; the Tony's/Shack spot is a gateway location, and a more upscale business there — especially if it's willing to stay open past 6 o'clock — will likely also attract business from the Heights (something that can't yet be said of the phone store locations further up Fulton Street).

My Little Pizzeria may be nice but it's too far a walk for most people who live or work on the Tony's/Shack side of Boerum.
Nov. 11, 2010, 12:27 am
Cynthia from Clinton hill says:
Shake shack and other stores. its cool that Filene’s Basement is comming to fulton street. its a matter of time when you get people(s) robing these places
Nov. 11, 2010, 4:34 am
Mark Lieber from Brooklyn says:
How come many readers see the value of upgrading the Fulton Mall but not one person has made the same argument re: Coney Island? Those places, like Shoot the Freak (which has only been there a few years) and Ruby's etc., that are being tossed are dumps.
Nov. 11, 2010, 9:19 am
Monty from Downtown says:
Never mind Shake Shake with it's way overpriced offerings (you thought Tony's was a ripoff) and Five Guys' grease on a Bun with a side iodized salt sticks. I'm waiting for "Jake's Way Back Burgers" to open on Livingston St. early next year as reported in Crain's not to long ago. Their food blows the doors off the other's and offers healthy options to. Who the hell wants to watch on a web-cam whether there is a line to decide when to get lunch or dinner.

Just glad to see people willing to invest in revitalizing Downtown.
Nov. 12, 2010, 1:40 pm

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