Iconic Little Italy Landmark Shuttering Its Doors After 130 Years In Business

Alleva Dairy, a 130-year staple in New York City's Little Italy neighborhood, will shutter its doors due to owing $500,000 in back rent but will open a new location in Lyndhurst, NJ.

By Tori Hook | Published

little italy alleva dairy

Alleva Dairy has been an icon of Little Italy for more than a century, but the beloved cheese shop closed its Grand Street doors for good on Wednesday. After struggling through the pandemic, business owner Karen King lost a long dispute with the landlord and had to shutter the doors of the shop that has provided fine cheeses to locals and travelers around the world since 1892. But for dairy lovers around the world, there’s hope; thanks to the generosity of another local businessman and developer, Alleva Dairy will live on—in a new, bigger location.

Boasting a decades-old sign in the colors of the Italian flag, sitting on the corner of Grand and Mulberry, Alleva Dairy exemplified the authenticity and color of Little Italy. As the oldest cheese shop in the U.S., the shop was a reputable source for imported Italian cheeses, fresh soft cheese like mozzarella and ricotta, and even classic Italian cured meats. Customers stopped in for everything from standouts for charcuterie boards, sandwich sundries, fresh hero sandwiches, or even house-made cannoli, and no matter how popular it got, it remained a local spot for local folks.

The Little Italy mainstay filed for bankruptcy in September after falling behind on rent during the pandemic and fighting a months-long battle with their landlord over back rent. Alleva Dairy struggled to survive the pandemic, deeply hurt by the loss of both tourists and many local restaurants that sourced their cheeses from them. By 2022, Alleva Dairy was nearly two years behind in rent, amounting to debts of over $500,000; King intended to pay back what was owed, but needed time to do so, time that the landlord was unwilling to give.

According to ABC, King set up a GoFundMe to repay some of the rent, but the fundraiser didn’t even reach its goal of $35,000, which was only a fraction of what Alleva Dairy owed. King has come to an agreement with the landlord that Alleva Dairy will vacate the property, and King will be released from any financial obligations to pay back the overdue rent. While this could have spelled the end of the Little Italy landmark, a new location is giving life back to the storied cheese shop—but it won’t be in Little Italy.

Thanks to assistance from President of CEO of Edgewood Properties, Jack Morris, Alleva Dairy will open a new, much larger store in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. King is excited to expand her business with a clean financial slate, and to have an entirely new group of customers become locals and lovers of Alleva Dairy. The cheese shop, thanks to its loyal following, will likely do well even in its new location, where its new shop size allows for more production and variety than before.

Residents and visitors to Little Italy will sorely miss Alleva Dairy, and Alleva Dairy will miss Little Italy as well. Part of its iconic status was that centuries-old building, the weathered sign, and its status as a neighborhood institution. Only time—a century, to be exact—will tell if Alleva Dairy becomes just as much of a staple in Lyndhurst as it was in Little Italy.