The once vibrant landmark Joe & Joe Restaurant has become a place of neglect and concern for residents.
Joe & Joe Restaurant, located 1001 Castle Hill Avenue, was an inviting family place. Businesses and organizations used its space for gatherings, in addition to the residents it served on a daily basis with its tasty dining.
“It was a Mecca to a lot of people,” said Francisco Gonzales, district manager of Community Board 9. “There used to be many activities there. It was a common meeting place for organizations and professional folk from the neighborhood. They brought a family ambiance to the neighborhood with good food and a great place to go.”
For the past several years however, the location has been vacant, attacked by graffiti and vandalism. The once historic former hotel is covered in spray paint, dotted with broken windows and ripped awnings, with litter occupying every corner.
The restaurant’s owner, Joe Longabado, sold to Jimmy Rodriguez, former owner of Jimmy’s Bronx Café. He hoped to reopen a restaurant, but complications arose and plans were halted.
“The owner refuses to do anything with it at this point because the Department of City Planning, requires a restaurant to have on-site parking spaces, and the owner does have the means for that right now,” said Councilwoman Annabel Palma. “Rodriguez has it for sale right now, but unfortunately with the dire economic times, no buyer is willing to make that investment.”
In the meanwhile, local residents are concerned for the building’s appearance and its affect on the neighborhood.
“We are working with Graffiti Free NYC, through the Mayors Office, but it has been quite difficult to get the materials to continually clean the property, but we are working on it,” said Palma.
“Castle Hill is a long and thriving commercial strip, and that one little location is out of place here in our community,” said Gonzales. “It is a real black eye in our community and we would like to see someone do something with it.”