Gone are the days of the ubiquitous $1 slice, but in a city with $15 build-your-own salads and $5 coffees, pizza is still a reliable and filling meal that won’t hurt the pocket. Inflation rates have affected everyone — from the average consumer to restaurateurs — and rising cost of flour and cheese have caused local pizzerias to increase their prices. Today marks National Pizza Day — yes, that’s a thing — so stop by your favorite spot to grab a slice because they could use your help.
Last year saw the highest rate of inflation since 1981, peaking at 9.1%. As of December 2022, the rate of inflation decreased to 6.5%, which is still high.
“You can have a shock or a disturbance from the supply side, you can have something happening from the demand side,” said CUNY economics professor Merih Uctum, who attributes the supply and demand “shock” to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the war in Ukraine, which affected flour prices around the globe.
According to the Associated Press, Ukraine accounts for 12% of the world’s wheat supply and the conflict caused a 37% increase on the grain in 2022.
“Costs of goods sold have increased, labor cost has increased, Con Edison prices have skyrocketed, we’re probably at a 30%-40% (increase) year over year,” said Michael, third-generation owner of Best Italian Pizza which has been at the southwest corner of Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse since 1973 and asked to be identified by first name only. He said that the cost of mozzarella cheese went from $2.46 to $3.46 per pound and a bag of flour went up $1 per bag and Michael has also had to reduce operating hours due to increased petty crime in the neighborhood, which cuts into his revenue. The pizzeria once closed at 11 p.m., they now close at 9 p.m.
Local pizzerias not only provide an affordable way to get your fill, but they also build a sense of community.
On a Sunday afternoon, a man walked into Yankee’s Pizza on Westchester Avenue and asked, “Can I order something, and you put it on my bill?” to which the person behind the counter replied, “no problem.” The man went on to order two personal pies, which Yankee’s Pizza sells at $7 each and said, “I’m trying to feed my family.” The pizzeria has been in the neighborhood for more than 40 years and has been owned by Gus the entire time, who also asked to be identified by first name only.
“It was known for the best video games when I was in grade school and everyone in the neighborhood always came back for a slice,” said Alex Torres, 48, who grew up in the Soundview neighborhood. The Pac-Man and Marvel vs. Capcom arcade games still sit in the back of the pizza shop today. A cheese slice at Yankee’s Pizza costs $3.25.
Over in Riverdale, owner Sal DiFiore has been pumping out pizza for 10 years at Famous Pizza Express on Kappock Street. The slices are large, the sauce is rich, the crust is sturdy, and the cheese pulls — arguably one of the best in the borough. DiFiore also feels the pangs of inflation and said that he has seen an increase in the cost of cheese which he added varies between $.50 and $.70 per pound, month-to-month.
“Prices are getting crazy. Everyone I speak to says the same thing,” he said.
With that in mind, for National Pizza Day, support local business and make dinner a pizza night.
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