Pupatella is looking to leave its original location in Bluemont and move elsewhere in Arlington.
The popular Neapolitan pizza restaurant said via social media that its landlord at 5104 Wilson Blvd is trying to raise the rent by 40%, despite the pandemic hurting its business and that of other restaurants.
The eatery — which recently opened a new location on S. Walter Reed Drive — asked its followers for suggestions of where to move. As of publication time, the Facebook post along has attracted more than 200 comments in a span of a few hours.
Dear friends, unfortunately our landlord (5104 Wilson Blvd) decided to hike our rent by 40% and we urgently need to find another location. We begged him to wait till the pandemic is over, but no luck. Please help us to spread the word and find a new perfect spot! #localbusiness
— Pupatella Pizza (@PupatellaPizza) June 9, 2020
The restaurant’s owners tell ARLnow that they have been quietly searching for a new location since March, when their lease came up for renewal, and have not found anything yet. They “definitely want to stay” in North Arlington but are “getting very desperate and hoping that someone can help us,” wrote Anastasiya Algarme.
“I believe our landlord believes that because we have opened a new location, we must be very rich now and he wants to take advantage of that,” said Algarme. “A lot of times people that have not run restaurant businesses do not understand all the expenses involved, and they believe that if a restaurant that is busy, it must be swimming in cash. It is not true at all and the profit margins are low. Our landlord refuses to see our accounting books to understand.”
The landlord, who she did not name, might have reason to think Pupatella has some extra cash beyond the Bluemont location’s acclaim and success. In 2018 it was reported that the company had raised $3.75 million for a planned eight-location expansion. So far, only the South Arlington location has opened, though other locations are planned in the District and in Reston.
As for a potential new location, “our only requirements are some parking, and preferably a place that is a restaurant already to reduce our build out costs,” Algarme said.
“We definitely want to stay in Arlington and North Arlington specifically,” she added. “We’d be foolish to give up such a loyal following.”
Asked whether the social media post was, effectively, a negotiation ploy, Algarme insisted it was not.
“We doubt the landlord will see it,” she said. “He is 90 years old and says he does not use Facebook. Our lease was typed on a typewriter.”