They fought over their right to exist and to the name Manganaro for decades. And now, as some sort of seeming poetic justice, both businesses that have long borne that name will vanish forever from Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen.
Manganaro's Grosseria Italiana, the ancient and argumentative sandwich shop and grocery, closed last year after 121 years. Now, Manganaro's Hero-Boy, it's longtime rival, owned by another faction of the fractious, litigious family, is leaving the street. It's being forced out by its landlord. According to Eater, the building and the space next door were sold to a developer for $15.75 million, and the new owner wants the shop to vamoose. The sale was brokered by the vulture-like Massey Knakal, which is usually on the scene when old businesses and old buildings die in New York. (I personally was shocked to learn that Hero-Boy didn't own the building.)
Hero-Boy was founded in 1956. I used to eat at Hero-Boy often when I worked in Times Square in the 1990s. I'd trudge the extra blocks to dine on cheap and delicious sandwiches in what was then a very homey, down-to-earth setting. It was still kind of a locals' secret back then. Many neighborhood workers has their lunches there, and much Italian was spoken. The place has since slicked things up and the place lost a lot of character.
I used to love walking down this stretch of Ninth Avenue. It was so gritty, so real, so evocative of an older New York. A lot of what I liked is now gone.