Shiro of Japan restaurant permanently shutters its Queens location

shiro of japan
Photo courtesy of Shiro

Shiro of Japan, located at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, has permanently closed its doors after a 14-year run.

“We made it through a lot of different situations — economic recession, shopping center bankruptcy, that restructuring, and everything else — but COVID-19 put the nail on the coffin,” said Shiro co-owner Peter Faccibene.

The restaurant is one of about 13 restaurants that have permanently closed its doors in the “World’s Borough,” according to Eater‘s running list of New York City-wide closures since COVID-19 forced the city to shut down in March.

The longstanding traditional sushi and hibachi restaurant, what they call the “first name in New York sushi,” established its main location on Long Island in 1972. They then expanded into Queens, and had a grab-and-go post at Grand Central Terminal.

Their Grand Central Terminal location, which opened in 2013, closed shortly prior to New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown. Faccibene said that location saw 30 percent decrease in sales in the last three years due to many factors, including the city’s administration “inability” to help businesses there and address the homeless population seeking refuge at the historic station.

Their location in Glendale, where Faccibene said they invested “several million dollars,” was sustaining itself well before the pandemic hit the city.

“We were in a good momentum, we kept building and growing,” he said. “But this hit us hard.”

Shiro at Atlas Park is located on the second floor of the shopping center, which made it logistically difficult to offer outdoor dining. While they tried takeout and delivery for a few weeks, they weren’t making ends meet.

Faccibene also attributes the increase in minimum wage (at their Queens location they had about 40 employees), taxes and rent as to why the business couldn’t keep up.

But the business owner said the city’s lawmakers aren’t introducing policies that allow for businesses to prosper.

“The policies aren’t making anything conducive,” Faccibene said. “We’re never opening up anything again in New York City.”

Last month, small business owners across Queens called for immediate financial relief from lawmakers to offset loses brought on by the economic crisis as a consequence of the pandemic.

In comparison, their Carle Place, Long Island locale has maintained itself even during the pandemic.

Restaurants on Long Island were allowed to reopen indoor dining at 50 percent capacity in their phase three, which began on June 23. New York City officials have yet to announce plans or a date for when indoor dining will be allowed in the five boroughs.

“We have a very loyal following,” Faccibene said. “We still get a lot of people driving in from Queens every weekend.”