La Villita Forced to Close in Williamsburg
La Villita, a Mexican bakery on the corner of Grand Street and Bedford Avenue, was forced to close at the end of February after the landlord raised the rent from $5,000 to $10,000. The GW News learned the bakery closed on Feb. 28 after 17 years in business. Owner Alfonso Sosa and his family ran the bakery, and neighbors claimed it was the only place in the area where they could find an egg sandwich and a cup of coffee for $2.50.
The New York Times profiled La Villita in 2007, praising its café con leche, tacos, and cakes topped with "sexy ladies." But five years later, the Sosas found themselves being "harassed" by their landlord up until the day they moved out, according to The GW News. The family has since moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where they have property and formerly owned a bar, to open a bakery under the same name. "The couple had no intention of leaving the neighborhood," the article stated. "Their lives were good in Williamsburg, the bakery was thriving."
La Villita is just one of many neighborhood favorites to close in recent months due to rent hikes. Chelsea leather bar Rawhide was forced to shutter when its landlord raised the rent from $15,000 to $27,000. The Pink Pony and Motor City Bar decided to close their doors on Ludlow Street after being priced out of the Lower East Side. (Motor City Bar's landlord didn't offer to renew its lease.) Oleg Kucherenko told Fork in the Road that his landlord raised the rent at Ninth Street Bakery by a whopping 38 percent, and he couldn't afford to keep the haven for babka open in the East Village.
Mom-and pop-shops will come and go in neighborhoods where rent is high and vacancies are sparse, but when another beloved joint is forced to close, loyal patrons will mourn their absences right there with the owners. La Villita's clientele stopped by throughout its last day to say goodbye, unsure of where to turn for their excellent and affordable breakfasts.