In November of 2012, Rick Alessi opened up Maria’s New York Deli and Pizzeria on the corner of Mineral Avenue. His dream was to create the finest dough in the area. Now, he’s closing, because his dough didn’t bring any in.
Due to a lack of profits, Alessi said he is looking to sell his business, wash his hands clean of the situation and move on.
“I hope I can get rid of it,” Alessi said. “I’m at the point where I’m ready to give it away.”
The restaurant’s impending demise is following in the eerie footsteps of other local businesses in the area. Buildings adjacent to Alessi’s restaurant that used to house Almost Heaven Smoke BBQ and Urban Essence Fitness Center now sit empty. Alessi blamed high tax rates that he said are created by big-name politicians and allowed by small-town officials for the economic instability that seems to be common with businesses in Mineral.
“Businesses are going out left and right,” Alessi said. “It’s terrible. I think the state [officials] are the main problem, but the counties are going to follow the states, because they figure if the states can get away with it, they can get away with it.”
Alessi referenced the recent changes made in New York by governor Andrew Cuomo as a model that needs to be emulated. On Oct. 22 of last year, Cuomo enacted the Start-Up NY system, which gives small businesses 10-year tax breaks on state and local taxes, as well as various other expenses such as property and business taxes.
“We’ve got a great product here, and we try really hard, but it’s a tough racket,” Alessi said.
The downturn in local businesses has also been an alarming trend witnessed by Mineral town manager Sal Luciano, who said he has had numerous conversations with Alessi and other business owners over the past few weeks about the state of affairs in the town. Though he empathized with Alessi’s situation, Luciano said that businesses owners haven’t formally addressed the town council with ideas to help solve their business’s problems, or even the problems themselves for that matter.
“We are seeing these businesses shutting down and having trouble, but no one has really come to us and said, ‘The taxes are too high. Can you help us out?’” Luciano said. “I’m willing to work it out.”
As far as solutions for economic stimulation, Alessi said he agrees with the town council’s decision to seek out and secure building permits for businesses such as Family Dollar. Alessi said he averaged making just $23 a day for the past two weeks because potential customers are seeing more intriguing choices for everyday purchases elsewhere in the area.
“The more businesses we can have in this town, the better off we’re going to be. If Mineral keeps on waiting to bring in businesses, the lake is going to have it all,” Alessi said. “Once people go to the lake, they’ll forget all about the town of Mineral and Louisa.”
To read the entire story, see the Jan. 30 edition of The Central Virginian.