June 6, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A beloved pizzeria in Astoria is likely to close.
Pizza Palace, located on the bustling corner of Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Street, may soon be closing its doors for good, its owner Jack Vitale told the Queens Post Monday.
The establishment is known for its garlic knots, pizzas and gyros. It is instantly recognizable due to its crimson red and white striped exterior on the prominent corner.
The restaurant, Vitale said, is “99 percent” certain to shutter, although he said that “nothing is confirmed.”
Vitale did not provide a reason for the impending closure. However, according to published reports, the business has been struggling to stay out of the red for the last eight years with high rents being a contributing factor.
The restaurant has been a neighborhood staple for decades but it is unclear exactly how long Pizza Palace has been operating at the busy corner.
Some of the company’s Instagram posts state that Pizza Palace has been serving the neighborhood since 1976, while other posts state its operations stretch back as far as 1973.
News of the likely closure was first reported by the Queens Gazette via a Facebook post.
The news led to an outpouring of comments with many Astoria residents taking to the social media platform to share their personal memories of Pizza Palace.
Some residents said they would bring their children to Pizza Palace for their birthday parties while others fondly remembered an old arcade area that was once supposedly situated at the rear of the building but was later walled off and converted into a commercial space.
“Pizza Palace will be missed so much,” wrote Chryssi Patellis, who said her brother Manny worked there for the last 20 years.
“It’s not gonna be the same anymore…,” she wrote.
Some posters listed their favorite dishes with vegetable pizza, gyros, souvlaki and garlic knots being popular picks.
Other posters lamented the changing landscape of Astoria.
“A lot of places the longtime residents love to eat and shop [in have] closed down, wrote Valerie Maneates.
“I’ve been here since 1978 and I support a lot of business[es] here, it’s just sad to see them go.”
Two days before the Queens Gazette Facebook post, Manuel Esteban, who was raised in Astoria, shot a Facebook live video discussing the likely closure. In the video, Esteban, who is now a Suffolk County legislator, toured the premises and reminisced about the times he spent at Pizza Palace during his childhood.
“Pizza Palace has been quite a landmark, an institution here in Ditmars,” Esteban said during the 21-minute video.
“It’s been like the Ditmars city hall, this has been the meeting spot for everything. If your meeting friends growing up in Astoria you would always say, ‘let’s meet at Pizza Palace.’”