Ozzie’s Coffee, which has been keeping Park Slope caffeinated since 1993, will close next month.
Owner Melissa Azulai — who has owned the Seventh Avenue java joint for 18 years — announced her intentions to close this week in a sign that suggested that her rent had gotten too expensive.
But this is not the same old story of a local business being priced out, said Azulai’s landlord.
“Ask her why she hasn’t paid me since December,” said the landlord, Kevin Kelley, adding that he even reduced the monthly fee to help Ozzie’s remain in the neighborhood. “You do someone a favor and they completely take advantage.”
Azulai did not respond to calls seeking comment. Indications are that she and her co-owner husband have been struggling financial. Earlier this year, the duo announced that it would lease half of the Fifth Avenue Ozzie’s location to a Beauty Bar. And in April, the owners paid out a $15,500 settlement to a former employee after he sued, alleging that they discriminated against him because he tried to unionize the shop.
Loyal customers weren’t sure why Ozzie’s was closing, but the Starbucks-bashing regulars did mourn the coming loss of the neighborhood institution, saying owner-operated businesses are good for the hood.
“Love affairs and business deals have happened here,” said coffee-guzzler Malcolm Smart. “I have some sadness about it closing — but, also, life moves on.”