Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Echo Park’s Pizza Buona dishes out its last pizza at the corner of Sunset and Alvarado

Pizza Buona last day

Otilia Schweitzer checks on pizzas

Storefront ReportECHO PARK — The cheese on the pizzas bubbled as Otilia Schweitzer opened the doors of the massive oven to check on the readiness of the pies. Next to her a cook drizzled spirals of red sauce on discs of dough while another tended to pots filled with more sauces bubbling on top of the stove. In the dining room, customers filled the tables in the late afternoon only a few hours before Pizza Buona would close the doors tonight after more than half a century of business in Echo Park.

Schweitzer and her family are looking for a new location to reopen their restaurant and continue serving up its sausage pizza, breadsticks, meatball sandwiches and other American-Italian fare. But after today, the Pizza Buona, which has anchored the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Street for decades will be closed for good after the landlord raised the rents substantially.

Schweitzer, surrounded by employees and family members in the middle of the kitchen, could not say how many pizzas would be served today. She was too busy sliding cheesy pies in and out of the oven and checking on in coming orders.

The family asks that customers check the Pizza Buona website for updates about a new location.

The Pizza Buona is scheduled to close at 11 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow, family members and employees will return to move out equipment.

The pizzeria opened originally as Pizza Bozza, according to a 2011 story in Echo Park Patch. Schweitzer’s husband, Norman, bought the restaurant in the early 1990s from the original owner, Vincent Bozza.

Photo by Martin Cox

Pizza Buona last day

Pizza Buona last day

Photo by Martin Cox

Photo by Martin Cox

Pizza Buona last day

Pizza Buona last day

Pizza Buona last day

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  1. its a real shame, been enjoying their pies for a long time
    good luck in your new location !

  2. Pro tip- If you have a 10 year plus successful business, go the bank and buy a damn building to put it in.

    • Really Dude? Go to the bank and buy a building? I bet you are not from these parts are you? You only know the history of Buona if you are from here. I know the family and what they have been through. Now you go patronize your gentrifiers in the neighborhood and see if they last here for 50 plus years. Not gonna happen.

    • Really Dude? Go to the bank and buy a building? I bet you are not from these parts are you? You only know the history of Buona if you are from here. I know the family and what they have been through. Now you go patronize your gentrifiers in the neighborhood and see if they last here for 50 plus years. Not gonna happen.

      • Ugh.

        What they’ve “been through”? If you’re talking some sort of personal tradgedy or sufferring, who cares? This is strictly an issue of business acumen. Going to the bank and trying to get a loan to purchase your own place is EXACTLY what a successful business would do. Especially one that’s been around as long as Pizza Bozza/Buona. And even more ‘specially if the owners of their rental space are making life consistently difficult for them. Why would anyone stay somewhere they’re getting screwed over? And you don’t think some other empty rental owner wouldn’t negotiate something “business friendly” with a successful, well-known local brand? Whomever the business figurehead is for this family either just sat on their hands and hoped for the best like an idiot would or didn’t have the business acumen to make their situation better. That’s completely on them and they should either pay the rent like good little tenants or fall by the wayside.

  3. Is the Alimento spinoff going into this space? Meantime, hope Pizza Buona finds a new space, maybe in Cypress Park or Lincoln Heights where there was once a big Italian community. Thanks Eastsider for staying with this story.

  4. The only way you can control your destiny as a business or resident is to own … If you don’t then you’re subject to whatever the owner wants to do and owners only have one goal .. a return on their investment. So if you rent you are always at risk.. that fact is unavoidable — is it fair? What in life is..

  5. Sadly, there is still no pizza here that is as good as any New York pizza.

    • or chicago. l.a. pizza really isn’t very good.

    • I dunno… those are just two regional styles of pizza. LA has some decent woodfired/neapolitan spots. And what’s wrong with California style pizza? We’ve got the best produce in the country!

      • I wouldn’t characterize NYC or Chicago styles as “regional.” IMO both cities do all styles well (regardless of individual styles the general public might associate them with). Not so here. Both thick crust and thin crust varieties sorely lacking. Woodfire? Pass. I don’t think it’s about the produce — it’s about the dough and sauce 🙂

        • Fair enough… New York certainly does all styles of pizza exceptionally well (never been to Chicago, so I can’t speak to that.) But woodfired is the real deal… that’s how they do it in Naples, so it’s good enough for me 😉

    • I’ve had peoples favorites from brooklyn and manhattan and they are still basically just good pizza. If one of my uncles brought me to pizza buena (but on a street corner in brooklyn) I would have enjoyed it. A little thicker in the cheese than most of the NY but they’re all different. And anyway… fuck off.

  6. Come to northeast LA! We need you!

  7. Meh.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. The food has been on a steady decline for years and as a businessperson, especially running a business in an area that has been steadily growing and becoming more “gentrified” over the last decade, if you aren’t smart enough to figure out a way to negotiate a long-term lease with a building’s owner or bite the bullett and absorb a shit loan to buy your own space, you deserve what you get.

    The “woe is me” and “it’s greed” prattle of all these business owners losing their leases and being forced to close or move falls on deaf ears from me.

    • Because you’re a prick.

      • No, just an adult who understands business and takes personal responsibility for his own actions and situation.

        As a business owner in an area that’s becoming more and more popular literally by the month, did they stupidly just assume that they’d get to reap more profit from their burgeoning clientele base and not assume that the people who own the building they’re making their profit in wouldn’t want some more profit of their own as well? Or do the people who own what is now “prime” real estate they pay taxes and fees on yearly just keep their space the same rent even though places all around them are getting double the rent and business owners are making more profit.?

        What a childish utopia way of thinking you must have.

        • Where in this article are the business owners crying woe is me? Or calling out their landlord’s “greed”? Sounds to me like they’re just taking “personal responsibility for their situation” by moving to a less expensive location. Not everyone has the capital or the credit to just buy a multimillion dollar storefront on Sunset Blvd… those of us who are “adults” understand that the real world is more complicated than that.

          • Actually, there’s nothing in THIS particular article that gives their stance one way or the other. Had you kept yourself informed, you’d have either read or at the very least somewhat familiarized yourself with the past articles on this situation that clearly explain their “woe is me” mentality.

            As I stated before, everyone understands that not every business has the capital or credit to just buy a storefront. But business acumen dictates that you look ahead to possible issues and increases that will inevitably come down the line. With as many people who have written about “loving” the food and being consistent patrons for any number of years, this business clearly has had a numerous and loyal clientele that allowed them to not only stay open but to be a successful and long standing restaurant. So if at no point during their decades of success while places around them failed did they attempt to get some sort of a loan to secure their place in the community by getting their own storefront or put in place some sort of a plan in case of some unforseen “emergency”, then they’re not only dumb, but their long-term business vision is horrible to say the least. They had nearly TWO DECADES to make this happen. And now we’re supposed to feel bad because a property owner wants to make more profit on a piece of real estate THEY OWN? Another ploy by the greedy “man” to destroy local business?

            Ask any of these whiny local business owners that have lost their spots in the “Hipster Triangle” because of the greedy shopowners: If you owned apartments or storefronts would you not raise rents according to market value and the want for more profit?

            Puh-leeze. Those who are “adults” might man up and tell you the truth.

        • Bento box over here dropping truth bombs and getting a lot of flack for it. LOL

  8. Everyone on here who’s saying ‘they should have just bought a building’ are being overly simplistic and missing a key point, which is that commercial real estate financing is different from residential and requires at least 40-50% down payment, so we’re talking about a lot of money here, even if they can get a decent loan. In the current climate it’s clear that any business owners who don’t own their building bear an enormous risk, but for a lot of older business (pre-gentrification wave) this wasn’t necessarily an issue they’ve had to deal with until recently… They may have had a long term lease or didn’t face a rent increase for many years, in what felt like a stable situation. Hindsight is always 20/20, and it’s easy for us all to look at the present moment and say “Of Course,” but geeze, be a little more understanding of someone else’s difficult situation.

    • Well said. The internet just seems to bring out the worst in some people.

      • Good points, Jonathan S and Corner Soul. It probably didn’t help that Pizza Buona had to make repairs after that car plowed into their front door in 2012. I mean, I assume insurance paid for some of it and they used it as an opportunity to refurbish the place. But the whole episode meant they were closed for a long time, which probably did nothing for their bottom line.

        In some cases around here (such as El Batey market), a landlord has raised rents massively on a commercial property and then the place has stood vacant for a long while while they tried to find another tenant. This corner property is presumably more desirable, but we shall see.

        Pizza Buona was a good part of the neighborhood and will be missed. I hope they find another place soon.

  9. Worst pizza I’ve ever had in LA, and that’s saying something. And the place looked like it hadn’t bern cleaned since about 1988. Good riddance.

  10. People sure are mean…

  11. I refuse to shop NEW ECHO PARK.
    those people have nothing I need!
    For us OLD COMMUNITY, it’s a party to see a hipster shop close it’s doors.

  12. Move the business to East Los Angeles. There are plenty of people here who used to live in Silverlake and Echo Park

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