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A Restaurant’s Plea: Yes, We’re Open

Cucina Di PesceSuzanne Rozdeba Nick Alija, manager of Cucina Di Pesce, says that the perception by some neighborhood residents that the restaurant shut down after a fire earlier this month has cut business by about 40 percent. Below: Mr. Alija with a few patrons at the half-empty restaurant Tuesday night.
Cucina Di Pesce

It was 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, and Nick Alija looked out at the half-empty dining room at Cucina Di Pesce and shook his head. Five tables were occupied, surrounded by space heaters pumping out warmth into the restaurant, which was damaged by a Jan. 4 fire that roared through the building next door.

Mr. Alija, a manager at the restaurant, knows that the damage could have been far worse. The East Village Farm & Grocery, where the fire started, was gutted. While Cucina was spared that fate – and has been able to remain open despite needing thousands of dollars in repairs – it has found itself stuck in a kind of commercial limbo: it is open for business but many people think it has shut down.

“I’ve heard people standing outside the restaurant saying we’re closed down, and have seen people online writing the same – and it’s not true,” Mr. Alija, 31, told The Local. “I’ve been telling people we are definitely open. It’s been a nightmare.”
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