Palombo Closes but the Neighborhood Remains Strong

Palombo Pastry Shop on Arthur Avenue recently closed down after after ten years at the location. (Kate Mackie/The Fordham Ram)

Palombo Pastry Shop on Arthur Avenue recently closed down after after ten years at the location. (Kate Mackie/The Fordham Ram)

By Margaret Fahey 

Palombo Pastry Shop, once located on E. 187th Street just off Arthur Avenue, now stands vacant. The business quietly closed mid-March, just before students of Fordham University returned to campus after spring break. The shop’s closing, which appears indefinite, has caused members of the community to consider what this means for business proprietors and customers.

Just a month ago, Palombo Pastry Shop was alive, serving clientele a wide variety of desserts as it had since its opening. Terminating just about a decade of history for the bakery, which opened in 2006, the building now sits with a locked door and a notice stating that the landlord has legal possession of the premises.

According to public record, the building, which housed the pastry shop for the past 10 years, was under the name of Luca Palombo. Luca, whose name appears on the store’s eviction notice, is related to Paolo (Paul) Palombo. Paulo, a former Fordham University Italian professor, operated the bakery from its conception to its now current state of closure.

Paolo Palombo has had a long and continuous history in the Bronx. His presence in the neighborhood has been sustained for many decades by his work as professor, a businessman and politician. He is the owner of other namesake bakeries throughout the area, recently opening one on E. 161st Street and Walton Avenue in June 2015. These other businesses remain open.

Palombo was unable to be reached through one of his bakeries, including the one in Larchmont and another in White Plains. The phone numbers listed online had been disconnected, and as a result, there is no concrete evidence as to why Palombo’s Arthur Avenue establishment closed.

Paulina Kajtazi from Simon’s Deli, which constitutes one of five businesses owned and operated by her family in the neighborhood, explained that from what she has heard, the closing of Palombo is not permanent.

Kajtazi described Palombo as a “a good guy and one of her friends.”

Just down the road, Sal Natale, of Pugsley Pizza, offered his voice on the business’ closing as well. When asked what happened to Palombo’s, he shrugged, stating that not even he or his fellow business owners knew why the bakery had closed.

“Mr. Palombo is a great guy, very intelligent, but who knows what’s going on,” Natale said. “People wear a mask. We appear as one thing but, who knows.” Palombo had previously been convicted of taking a bribe back in the late 1990’s. Palombo’s past and illegal history was explored and published in The New York Times in 1999.  

Despite the state of Palombo Pastry Shop, both Natale and Kajtazi want to reassure the community that their businesses are thriving and that the community as a whole continues to prosper.

Kajtazi, who came to the neighborhood from communist Yugoslavia 52 years ago searching for a chance “to live,” shared similar sentiments about the neighborhood’s current growth. Like Natale and many people living and working in the neighborhood, Kajtazi stated, “I came here to work hard.”

With her family, including all seven of her children, Kajtazi and her husband operate their five businesses: Simon’s Deli, Howl at the Moon Bar and Grill, Michelangelo’s, Blue Goose Tavern and Tony & Tina’s Pizzeria. In all of her time as a business owner in the area she stated, “I’ve never had a problem.” She stated that neither her family nor her businesses had ever been the victim of crime.

“This neighborhood right now is coming up. It’s a very good neighborhood. They’re fixing, they’re doing and the best is coming,” Kajtazi said.

As explained by local business owners, the current state of Arthur Avenue is one of prosperity, despite the unexplained closing of Palombo Pastry Shop. Both Natale of Pugsley Pizza and Kajtazi of Simon’s Deli credited much of the success of the neighborhood to its customers.


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