The rental battle threatens the future of New York’s beloved chocolate shop

Growing up in Poland, Kamila Myzel’s parents always wanted her to become a dentist.

But the New York City transplant – which arrived in the United States in 1980 with political asylum amid martial law in his country – had other plans. In 1990 he opened his own chocolate shop, Myzel’s chocolate, on 55th Street, and has been selling homemade and specialty candy ever since.

“This is sweeter. How does life get better than this? “65-year-old Myzel recently told The Post from behind the counter of her 470-square-foot patisserie.” I was living the American dream. “

But like so many small business owners, the pandemic has threatened his livelihood. Due to slow sales, Myzel hasn’t paid her $ 7,800 monthly rent since April 2020 – the shop was closed for a total of five months during the lockdown – and has been trying to negotiate a new lease since that July. , when his old is out of date. However, the negotiations became tumultuous, and Myzel said her landlord provided her with eviction papers in late August, demanding $ 250,000 in back rent. The city’s moratorium on evictions has protected it so far: it will remain in effect until January 2022.

Kamila Myzel, owner of Myzel’s Chocolate, laments the fate of her beloved business.
Stefano Giovannini

Myzel said his landlord, Solil Management, is unreasonable. “They broke me when they served me the court papers,” he said. “They doubled the rent,” he added tearfully to the initial $ 15,000 request, noting that it is one of the few businesses on West 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues that survived the COVID-19 crisis.

And it wasn’t easy. Without the hectic activity otherwise carried on by nearby employees, hotels, and foot traffic, Myzel said there were days when revenue was depressingly low. “How many months have I made $ 40 a day, $ 50 a day. I can not handle it anymore. Are greed and money more important than the history of the city?

Myzel’s attorney, Joshua Wurtzel – whose firm, Schlam Stone & Dolan, is working on the pro bono case – told The Post that while the landlord has dropped from their initial offer, the warring parties have yet to reach out. a deal. “At one point, he just doesn’t have the money and he can’t afford it,” Wurtzel said. “If she doesn’t pay, they can evict her.”

Myzel's Chocolate confectionery boasts around 150 varieties of European licorice.
Myzel’s Chocolate confectionery boasts around 150 varieties of European licorice.
Stefano Giovannini

A representative from Solil Management told The Post: “[We] I negotiated with her and tried to find something right. We have not received any rent since April 2020. I am just surprised that nothing is paid for us, and she is open to business, “the rep said, adding” we are still trying to make a deal if we can. “

Meantime. fans of the beloved chocolate shop around the corner stepped in to help Myzel.

Counselor Keith Powers, who represents the store district, along with Manhattan District President Gale Brewer, wrote a letter to Solil Management on October 4, asking the company to “negotiate, in good faith, a fair lease and fair and stop the lawsuit against Kamila. This will allow her to continue to run one of the few immigrant-owned businesses in New York City and provide for her family. “

Instagram influencer Nicolas Heller, better known as New York Nico, is also using its platform to help Myzel. “This place is fucking amazing and I want all of you to experience and support Kamila,” she wrote in a long post, garnering over 21,000 likes.

A The GoFundMe page has been created to help offset Myzel’s backlog, raising $ 7,000 so far.

Customers are also weighing on the struggle.

“I’m exasperated,” said Wendy Handler, who just moved to New York and quickly became a regular customer. “It’s like David and Goliath.”

Candy buyer Betsy Polivy told The Post: “We have to help this lovely woman who came here from Poland without speaking English – she is loved by so many. That’s who New York is.”

Kamila Myzel, who moved to the United States via asylum from Poland, is struggling to keep her shop alive.
Kamila Myzel, who moved to the United States via asylum from Poland, is struggling to keep her shop alive.
Stefano Giovannini

Myzel, who said she was “humiliated” by all the support, said the shop is what it is too.

“You see someone come in and they get this big smile on their face,” he said of selling treats to his customers. “They turn into children”.

Myzel’s Chocolate, 140 W. 55th St; 212-245-4233, Myzels.com

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