SCHENECTADY — Bread From Brooklyn generated a lot of buzz when it opened on Upper Union Street in June. Just three months later, the bagel, doughnut and pastry shop is closed, and the owner blames the Lecce Group.
In a Facebook post, Bread From Brooklyn owner Angelo Bonsignore said the Lecce Group LLC, which purchased and is rebuilding The City Squire on Keyes Avenue, blocked off a parking lot that Bonsignore had a legal right to use for his business. Since customers could not access the parking lot, they did not come, and his business was forced to close at the end of September, he said.
The Lecce Group said the lot was kept open as long as possible, but it was ultimately closed for safety reasons. It will be repaved and reopened in a few weeks, according to company officials.
The Lecce Group bought the former City Squire on Keyes Avenue in the spring. It has since demolished the structure and is building a new restaurant on the site. Lecce Group Chief Operating Officer Shane Mahar said the property does contain an easement that allows three business tenants and 10 apartments at 1625 Union St. to use “up to but not more than half the parking lot next to the City Squire on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Mahar said he spoke with Bonsignore and tried to be as accommodating as possible, including paying for an additional dumpster when County Waste could not access the bagel shop’s original dumpster through the construction zone.
Mahar said part of the parking lot was closed when the old structure was demolished. More of the lot was closed as larger pieces of equipment were needed to access the site and as larger amounts of building materials were delivered.
Finally, when the Lecce Group decided to remove neglected landscaping and put in a retaining wall, privacy fencing and new parking lot pavement, the entire lot was closed off, Mahar said.
“We were doing things to make the project better,” Mahar said. “We tore up the blacktop to replace it and didn’t want cars to run over nails or for someone to trip and fall.”
Shane Mahar, the Leece Group chief operating officer, talks about the parking situation. (Marc Schultz)
To further increase parking difficulties, in August the city began utility work in the Upper Union Street Business District, blocking parking in the fronts of buildings all along the street. Additionally, construction vehicles for the utility project were parked along Keyes Avenue, restricting parking for residents and patrons of all businesses in the area.
Bonsignore refused to comment beyond his Facebook post, except to say he is looking for another place in the Capital Region to open a Bread From Brooklyn store.
“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” Mahar said. “We are excited for this restaurant.”