A man with an umbrella passes Manganaro's Grosseria Italiana in New York, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. The Italian grocery and restaurant that opened in New York City in the 1890s and helped launch the hero sandwich is about to close its doors. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The owners of an Italian grocery and restaurant in business for more than 100 years have put their five-story building up for sale, but they insist that doesn't mean the eatery, where a researcher found the first U.S. reference to hero-style sandwiches, is going anywhere.
The Manhattan structure that houses Manganaro's Grosseria Italiana and seven apartments has an asking price of $5.3 million.
It was listed a few weeks ago, real estate broker Adelaide Polsinelli said. The initial asking price for the 9,825-square-foot building was $5.9 million. The listing has attracted some interest, she said.
Seline Dell'Orto, a daughter of owner Salvatore Dell'Orto, insisted Monday that the business will not be closing. She said that if the building is sold, the might work out a lease agreement with a new owner or consider a different location.
"We have it on the market because we want to see" what could happen, she said. She added, "We have no intention of closing down our business."
The grocery and its next-door neighbor, Manganaro's Hero-Boy, have been at the center of a long-running feud between brothers who no longer speak. The businesses are unaffiliated, and Manganaro's Hero-Boy would be unaffected by any sale. A person who answered the phone at the Hero-Boy store declined to comment when contacted Monday.
Manganaro's Grosseria Italiana has a long-standing affiliation with the style of sandwich that came to be known as the hero, said Howard Robboy, sociology professor at the College of New Jersey.
He said that in research he did in the late 1960s, the earliest reference he found to hero-style sandwiches was at the New York City grocery, with the next reference being a few years later in New Orleans.
He traced the sandwiches to the arrival of Italian immigrants, who would eat them for lunch at their jobs.
"This sandwich served a very important function," he said. "It allowed Italian laborers to bring their culture to the workplace."