End of an era! Aunt Suzie’s, red sauce mainstay, to close

Irene LoRe will close her beloved Italian eatery, Aunt Suzie’s, in January. The Fifth Avenue restaurant was a mainstay before the Park Slope stripe was a foodie destination. Here, LoRe points to a photo of her mother, for whom the restaurant is named.
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Mama mia! It’s the end of an era. Several of them, actually.

Beloved Park Slope restaurant Aunt Suzie’s — famous for its cheap Italian eats and homey vibe — will close 25 years after it became a pioneer on then-seedy Fifth Avenue.

Owner Irene LoRe said she’ll shutter the neighborhood mainstay on Jan. 1 to retire — citing three reasons for saying “Caio!”: too many restaurants on the street, impossible parking and harsher city inspection fines.

“It’s really ridiculous. The Department of Health has become a profit center that has nothing to do with public health anymore,” she said. “It’s time to say goodbye.”

LoRe opened the simple, southern Italian restaurant — where you can still score a plate of ravioli for less than $10 — in 1987, naming it after her mother. Back then, the street was known mostly for rundown bodegas and high crime rates.

“It was a little scary,” she said, recalling a thief who broke in and stole cash from a drawer. “But I knew there was a solid middle class here — and that the park would draw families.”

Back then, drug dealers would use pay phone booths near Carroll Street as “their personal offices,” LoRe recalls. So she bought a pair of hedge clippers and paid a bus boy $5 for every phone he brought back.

Neighbor Bob Pheiffer — who opened Bob and Judi’s Collectables a block away in the 1990s — remembers the eatery as an island of “comfort food and family get-togethers” on a street so rough that he used to chain his outdoor furniture to the wall.

“Aunt Suzie’s used to be the only place around,” he said. “It’s sad that she’s closing.”

Even with the crime, LoRe’s businesses boomed — likely because it was the only spot to get decent plate home-cooked grub for blocks. The clientele back then was different, too.

“There was more of a pioneer spirit,” LoRe said.

As schools got better, families moved in and restaurant began to emerge on the street. Her average client became “a little wealthier and a little more entitled,” she said.

And they had more choices: By 2010, nearly 120 eateries had opened along the length of Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

All of those culinary options drew food critics and bloggers, too — some of whom didn’t appreciate that Aunt Suzie’s isn’t about fancy house-cured meats and hand-rolled organic saffron-kohlrabi ravioli.

“You have these people now who have nothing better to do than sit around and blog about you,” LoRe said. “As if anyone cares about their opinion!”

But even as better Italian eateries — such as the nearby al di la — appeared, Aunt Suzie’s retained loyal patrons. The reason: Plates stayed big and prices stayed low.

Hungry Slopers can still chose from “The Really Cheap Menu” which includes meatball parmigiana ($9.50) and chicken marsala ($11.90).

Now LoRe, who owns the building, said she’ll likely lease the space to a retail shop or a quiet restaurant to avoid rowdy bar crowds.

“It’s been great getting to know people and becoming part of their lives,” she said. “But it’s time to move on.”

Aunt Suzie’s [247 Fifth Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 788-3377].

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Resident from PPW says:
Goodbye Aunt Suzie's. You will be missed.
Nov. 8, 2011, 5:13 am
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
Another biz lost to the "I going to sever the nab by opening another sports bar".....
Nov. 8, 2011, 6:01 am
Cristina from Park Slope says:
This has literally been my favorite restaurant since I could speak. My parents have been bringing me there for the past 24 years and I'm devistated to see it's closing. Best baked ziti I've ever had in a restaurant. Aunt Suzies, you will be sorely missed, especially in my family!
Nov. 8, 2011, 8:28 am
Basic questions from partly answered says:
Does she own the building? Is she selling it? Does she have any say in future use of building?

Ah. StreetEasy says:
Owned by 247 5TH REALTY CORP.

NYS Division of Corporations says:
Chairman or Chief Executive Officer
Nov. 8, 2011, 8:35 am
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
It will be a Sports bar...........
Nov. 8, 2011, 9:43 am
VLM from Park Slope says:
Let's call a spade a spade: This restaurant will only be missed by people who are nostalgic for the "good old days" that don't really exist and those without taste buds. Plus, Irene's insistence that people drive to her crappy restaurant was a huge turn-off too.
Nov. 8, 2011, 9:44 am
Adrastos from Bath Beach says:
I have been going to Aunt Susie for the last 21 years. Always have a nice meal, and know the workers who are all so very nice.

I am so glad they stuck by the neighborhood and helped it get better.

Aunt Susie, you will be missed but never forgotten.
Nov. 8, 2011, 9:53 am
InThe Slope from Park Slope says:
Yes, to a place where the people are tasteless......
Nov. 8, 2011, 10:07 am
prillis from ps says:
yes, it was good for a cheap, but filling meal. fingers crossed the sports bar is good.. . . there's been an empty slot in the nabe ever since snooky's closed.
Nov. 8, 2011, 10:39 am
SB from Park Slope says:
I give her kudos for being one of the first restaurants on 5th Ave, but the food is pretty poor. It's time for something new.
Nov. 8, 2011, 10:40 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
It's a sad day. My partner and I celebrated our 10th and then our 20th anniversary there. A good meal at a very reasonable price. I can't recall ever having a bad meal there. And judging by the crowds, I'm not alone.

Best wishes on your retirement! Aunt Suzie's will be missed.

And, just what we need, another sports bar... (yawn)
Nov. 8, 2011, 11:58 am
Lou from PS says:
Food was horrible!

But I also love the stupidity of this women:

Her average client became “a little wealthier and a little more entitled,"

First of all, in almost EVERY scenario having wealthier customers or neighbors should be BENEFICIAL for a retail establishment.

2nd - what does "more entitled" even mean?? - I assume it a nasty way of saying they wanted better food.
Which doesnt mke them 'entitled', it makes them Right,
Nov. 8, 2011, 12:48 pm
ed from parkslope says:
Exactly, Lou. Not to mention that she cried when they started the Grand Army Plaza Food Truck rally saying it would take away her business. You know what, if she made good food, it wouldn't be an issue. Can you imagine the owner of Al Di La saying that the Food Trucks were taking away their business. This woman was also a fierce opponent to the 5th Avenue bike lane.

Nov. 8, 2011, 2:47 pm
Bob from FORMER pARK sLOPER says:
The couple of nasty comments explains why I was one of those who left the Slope to get away from snarky newcomers.
Nov. 8, 2011, 5:10 pm
Ansel from PS says:
And the reason Park Slope has gotten so much nicer (and more expensive) is because people like Bob left! I love it when people think that anyone cares that they left a neighborhood. So what? Someone who loves the neighborhood probably moved in after you making it that much better for everyone. Clearly you are in the minority since Park Slope was ranked the NUMBER 1 neighborhood in NYC last year and was also ranked by the American Planning Association as one of the best neighborhoods in America. Don't be a hater just cause you can't afford it anymore.
Nov. 8, 2011, 5:27 pm
trans alt from bike city says:
I stopped going to Suzie's when I realized Irene was encouraging a bunch of fat slobs to pollute the air by driving to her restaurant.
Nov. 8, 2011, 6:40 pm
Greg from Kensington says:
Ahime! Another beloved landmark bites the dust to make room for yuppies! Will definitely miss linguini w/ white clam sauce & pleasant, homey atmosphere.
Nov. 9, 2011, 10:49 am
rh from Bed Stuy says:
Me too, Bob! In all fairness, Park Slope WAS an awesome neighborhood back in the day. Thanks, "Suzie" for having faith in the area when it was fringe.
Nov. 9, 2011, 11:49 am
Rod from Prospect heights says:
It's interesting that people live in Park Slope, love it and then when they get priced out and have to move to Bed Stuy and Bay Ridge, all of the sudden they hate it.

Sour grapes, much?

The fact that a brownstone in Park Slope costs 3 million and one in Bed Stuy costs 500K is evidence of which neighborhood is more desirable.
Nov. 9, 2011, 12:36 pm
I'm from Brooklyn says:
Remember this, folks?
"Busted: 25 Brooklyn Restaurants Short Workers $1Million"

Aunt Suzie’s, Baluchi’s, Sweet Melissa Patisserie, Sotto Voce, Joe’s Pizza, Uncle Moe’s, and Olive Vine Cafe.

Also Taqueria, Bogota, Sette, Coco Roco, and Bagel World
Nov. 9, 2011, 2:05 pm
High Strung from Cypress Hill says:
Irene deserves credit for investing in 5th Avenue back when it was still pretty sketchy and she and 200 Fifth were pretty much the only places you could go for a bite. She's a pioneer.

It's unfortunate, however, that she was never able to change and grow with the neighborhood that she helped to revive. It was bad business that she spent more energy fighting to oppose bike lanes rather than figuring out how to serve the new residents of a booming neighborhood. It's really disappointing that she chooses to call her potential customers "entitled" rather than simply figuring out how to grow her business by serving them something that they want and need and enjoy.

Irene deserves credit but it's unfortunate that she chooses to go out like this.
Nov. 10, 2011, 1:06 pm
Wendy says:
Thank you for all the great meals and memories. The restaurant felt like a home and it will be missed.
Nov. 11, 2011, 11:59 pm
John & Diana from Park Slope says:
My wife and I have been coming the Aunt Suzie since the restaurant opened. We always loved the place and celebrated many special occasions there with our friends. We were pioneers in the Slope along with Aunt Suzie's. What a great loss to the neighborhood. P.S.- most restaurants on 5th Ave. survive only a few years: Suzie went for 21 rounds and went down by a TKO. We'll miss you.
Nov. 12, 2011, 4:01 pm from BROOKLYN! says:
Brooklyn is a culture! Aunt Suzies is a staple. I would love to give my opinion, I'd be here for days. Aunt Suzies will be missed more than most on this blog know! Some of these blogs.. plz.. $$ can't make you a Brooklynite! Yes you complimented the neighborhood.. you didn't MAKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD. A place like Aunt Suzies IS WHAT MAKES BROOKLYN.. Brooklyn!
Nov. 19, 2011, 12:22 pm
Melanie from Midwood says:
So sorry to hear this news! We've been going to Aunt Susie's for at least 10 years. Lots of fond memories with my friend's baby there (no longer a baby). Best of luck to everyone there, and we'll definitely miss you. Where will we go for garlic chicken like that? Nowhere, I tell you.
Nov. 20, 2011, 6:43 pm
Victoria Gorge from East New York says:
I loved this restaurant!! You always left there full and happy :(
Jan. 27, 2013, 10:40 am
BrazenBrAzEn from East New York says:
I really can't tell you how great this place was aunt suzieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Nooooooooooo I enjoyed plenty of brunches and I tell you I left there sideways full to the rim classy place MOËT mimosa yup yup all day truly missed
Jan. 27, 2013, 10:47 am

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