The red, white and green sign of Sbarro— the pizza chain that miraculously still exists, somehow—has been an icon in Times Square for 23 years, when it was one one of the first businesses to move into the formerly seedy area during the Great Giuliani Reformation of the mid-1990s. It was the pizza that no true New Yorker would eat in the district where no true New Yorker ever wants to go. Despite the fact that it is truly a New York success story—the franchise stemmed from a long-defunct red sauce joint in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn—it has nonetheless been the butt of countless jokes for as long as I’ve been alive. And yet… the news that the Times Square location has shuttered still breaks this NYC expat’s heart.
According to QSR Magazine, the Times Square Sbarro was done in by the same thing that does in so many other beloved New York City institutions: its landlord. Representatives from Sbarro said that their lease expired on June 30, 2019, and negotiations to extend the lease were unsuccessful.
“It’s very disappointing that we were unable to negotiate a long-term extension of our lease at our Times Square location” says David Karam, Sbarro’s CEO. “Sbarro will open over 50 new restaurants worldwide in 2019 and we are actively searching for a replacement site in the Times Square area.” Whether or not the Times Square Sbarro can rise from the ashes like a phoenix cacciatore is yet to be seen. After all, this is the area where Guy Fieri closed his perpetually packed flagship restaurant because the rent was too damn high.