Around the Corner From St. Mark’s Bookshop, Prices Inch Up at Zaiya

Cafe ZaiyaDaniel Maurer

While we have our lens trained on Cooper Square today: The Local was shocked to see that the price of a spicy chicken sandwich went up by 25 cents at Cafe Zaiya — a sign that even one of the neighborhood’s cheapest eateries isn’t recession-proof.

Yesterday, the Japanese cafe raised the price of a pre-packaged onigiri with salmon (a triangle-shaped rice cake) by 25 cents to a whopping $1.75. And the spicy chicken sandwich — a favorite around the Local office — is now $4.25, up from $3.95.

“Gas is up. We have to pay tolls a lot,” said Fabian Lima, an employee at the cafe. “We haven’t raised the price since 2003.”

But it’s not just the price of hauling the food that’s gone up.

“Business is O.K., it’s just that ingredients are really expensive right now,” Mr. Lima added. “We have to buy from Japan — even the mayonnaise is really expensive right now.”

Still, Zaiya remains a pretty good bargain — especially when The Local is constantly breaking the bank at the Peels build-a-biscuit counter.

“We have to do something to stay in business,” Mr. Lima said.