ITHACA, N.Y.—In a sad post to Instagram, Pizza Aroma, which has been located at 128 N. Cayuga Street for 25 years, announced that it is looking for a new home.

“As some of you may have heard, we found out back in September that our building was going to be condemned unless the necessary work was done,” the Instagram post said, explaining that until last week, landlords had provided no communication regarding when that outside construction would begin or end.

In July 2021, the City of Ithaca received a complaint from concerned citizen Brian Bessire who had noticed while passing by that brick exterior was bowing.

“There are concerns about the stability of the brick veneer, and there is a permit for that work that’s visible from the exterior. That’s unrelated to any tenant issues, and as far as tenants, we have confirmation from the owner that there are no residential tenants on the upper floors of the building,” said Rob Fell-deWalt, supervisor of buildings and code enforcement in Ithaca.

“Ithaca is known for having pretty tight building codes and inspections, so seeing a brick wall bulging so much made me assume it was on its way quickly toward collapse,” Bessire said in an interview. “Immediately I wanted to reach out to the city to address it from a public safety perspective.”

These findings are listed on the complaint: first, that the brick veneer is indeed separating from the back wall in two different spots, and second, that a column on the corner of the first floor is unstable.

Mauricio Rosa, the owner of Pizza Aroma, said that landlords Doris Nitsios and Renee Ryan hadn’t been in communication with him about the issues and that he had initially learned of the problems when a contractor came in for evaluation.

Though Nitsios owns the building, Ryan has power of attorney privileges regarding the all tenants in the building, which includes Pizza Aroma, Sam’s Wine and Spirits and four upstairs apartment units.

After an inspection finding that the building needed structural and masonry repairs, as well as a window replacement in one of the upstairs units, Ryan was issued a compliance order deeming the building unsafe and issuing a vacate order while repair or demolish work was done.

Fell-deWalt also said that the building owner has mentioned potentially remodeling the entire building, though there are no plans other than the exterior reinforcement at this time.

“After enduring the pandemic as a small business, we don’t know what the future will hold,” reads the restaurant’s post on Instagram. “Make sure to get your Pizza Aroma while we’re still here! Thank you for the continued support, words can’t express how much we appreciate you all.”

Neither Nitsios or Ryan responded for comment.

UPDATE: Pizza Aroma has started a GoFundMe page with a goal of $25,000 to help support its future. As of March 22, $5,835 has been raised.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...