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Siggy’s owner on closure: Brooklyn Heights is now pricier than Manhattan

The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Health food was an untapped 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 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 process of closing a business was harder than she expected.

“I’ve never closed a restaurant before, I’ve only opened them,” she said.

Sollitto is not completely shocked that her creative culinary enterprise has been forced out of Brooklyn Heights, though.

“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, and it is still open. But she said city regulations are making it tough to run a business in that distant borough, citing the health department as a particularly pronounced source of headaches.

“The city administration is really making things impossible for a small business,” she said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jane from Brooklyn says:
It's truly sad to see empty store fronts - overpriced by landlords. You would think the City Council would have some gusto to penalize landlords for this harmful practice. Whose side is the Public Advocate on anyway?
Feb. 20, 2015, 2:45 pm
Greed is from Greed does says:
The side of those that contribute to thier campaigns. No representation without payment authorization...
Feb. 20, 2015, 5:41 pm
GreenGenes from Former Heights Residence says:
Real Estate owns the Democratic Party (Republicans would be no better). Keep electing then and you get this.

Consider voting for Greens when they run. Otherwise you screw your own neighborhoods when you vote for pseudo liberals who give developers free reign, forcing out residents with expensive condos and small businesses with unregulated rent increase.

If you really care about your neighborhood, vote for people who care as well.
Feb. 21, 2015, 11:20 am
Robert Gonzalez and family from Brooklyn Heights says:
Siggy, my family and I are so sad. We no longer will be able to go out for dinner and have a healthy meal. You ran a great restaurant, always so welcoming, and served healthy organic meals for same price as other restaurants in neighborhood which use the lowest quality of food supplies. I wish you future success and hope you can find another location with a landlord which understands community and health.
Rob, Leslie, Grace and Eli
Feb. 23, 2015, 9:55 am
Joyce David from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
This kind of restaurant would be a great addition to Prospect Lefferts Gardens, which still has affordable rents. I moved my law office here a year and a half ago, after 30 years in Brooklyn Heights, because of the rents, and love it here. I'm on the board of the merchants association, and can be reached at 718-875-2000, if Siggy's is interested.
Feb. 23, 2015, 11:16 am
Anonymous from Brooklyn Heights says:
The loss of Siggy's is a real blow to the community. This is the type of business we would all like to see thrive.
As for the landlords overpricing their properties, if any of the complainants here owned a building would they not want to achieve top dollar? That is the whole point of owning an investment property-to create an income stream.
I see both sides of the issue but it comes down to fundamentals: Tenants need to pay as little rent as possible to make their business model viable and landlords need to maximize their income stream. And neither side is wrong.
As to government getting involved in what a private owner can charge for rent, do any of us really want to see that slippery slope begin? The public advocate has nothing to do with this. It is the market economy working exactly as it was designed to work. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that prized tenants have to leave.
Siggy has proven herself a highly competent business owner and we all hope that she lands somewhere nearby. But the rents won't be getting any cheaper...
Feb. 24, 2015, 9 am
Monica from Ozone Park, queens says:
I happened upon this jewel of a restaurant one day when I was forced onto the bqe by tons of traffic. Stuck for over an hour Siggys was right there where I had the most delicious and satisfying lunch. You had everything I could ever want. Even ended the meal with a fabulous cappuccino! Well the traffic into queens didn't seems so bad after that :). I drove in to see u guys many times, bringing my family, friends and coworkers..I was extremely saddened to see the empty shell today and, I tell you, I couldn't find a place to eat after that. No place could possibly be as good as Siggy's. Where could I find a great salad and quinoa patties? NOWHERE! I hope u find a place soon to move into, maybe the prospect lefferts gardens might work out...��
May 8, 2015, 7:43 pm

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