It’s harder to run a restaurant in Brooklyn Heights than it is in Manhattan, says the owner of Siggy’s Good Food, who just closed her Henry Street outpost.
Siggy Sollitto opened the health food restaurant bearing her name between Orange and Pineapple streets in 2005, when construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park was just getting off the ground. Ten years later, she has been priced out of the area, and said the waterfront greensward played a big role in causing her landlord to up her rent beyond what she could afford.
“Now with the development of the park, landlords think they can charge higher-than-Manhattan prices,” Sollitto said.
The demand for healthy food was an unrealized market in the tony neighborhood when she opened up shop, she said. Her organic, locally sourced dishes — such as a quinoa avocado salad and a thyme sage chicken cutlet hero with caramelized onions, roasted peppers, and green herb vegan mayo — were a big hit.
“There was nothing like us. It was all junk food,” Sollitto said. “I knew exactly what my customers wanted.”
She tried to stay in the neighborhood when the Henry Street space became too expensive, but had little luck finding an affordable location, she said.
“I was looking around the neighborhood for another place, but couldn’t find anything,” she said. “And the prices on Montague Street were higher than they are in the city.”
Sollitto hoped to stay open until the end of the month, but had to cut things short when she found the business of closing a business was harder than she expected — having very little experience in that regard.
“I’ve never closed a restaurant before, I’ve only opened them,” she said.
Sollitto is not completely shocked that her creative culinary enterprise was eventually forced out of Brooklyn Heights, though. She said this is what happens to the pioneers of a changing neighborhood.
“That’s what always happens to the artists,” she said. “Look at Dumbo, they can’t afford to live there anymore.”
Sollitto launched a second Siggy’s in Manhattan in 2012, which will remain open. But she said city regulations are even making it tough to run a business in that distant borough.
“The city administration is really making things impossible for a small business,” she said.