Manhattan Pizzeria has been serving up slices for nearly 20 years on the steep incline of Manhattan Beach Boulevard just steps from the beach. But, owner Bobby Eskowitz fears his eatery, a family-owned mom-and-pop, is a dying breed in the beach cities.
Since Eskowitz opened the tiny shop in 2000, his monthly rent has more than doubled.
A couple blocks above his pizzeria on Manhattan Avenue, the popular Italian joint Mama D's left Manhattan Beach in the fall of 2018 due to rent increases. Right next door to that, Wahoo's Fish Taco is still in business, but is also soon vacating, according to Eskowitz.
Eskowitz is struggling, he said, to keep the business afloat.
“We're hurting ... that's a lot of slices,” Eskowitz said.
His main goal, said Eskowitz, is to provide a place for kids or tourists to find a reasonably priced meal. But, that's difficult. Eskowitz recently raised prices on pizza slices, but customers can still get two slices of pizza and a soda for under $10.
“We held on for a year because I really didn't want to do it, but we have to in order to survive... but we're still that reasonable place,” said Eskowitz, adding they will have specials throughout the summer and into October as Manhattan Pizzeria approaches its 20th year in business.
Eskowitz, a Brooklyn native, had never been to the South Bay when he visited his sister in Manhattan Beach after he graduated Northeastern University in Boston. He loved it so much he spent eight months on his sister's couch. When a one-bedroom apartment below his sister's opened up, he moved in there.
His first job was at Bodacious Buns in Manhattan Beach. He worked there for almost a year when he went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He eventually worked for Wolfgang Puck for six years at the famed Spago in Beverly Hills.
He was living in an apartment around the corner from what became Manhattan Pizzeria, a place he would stop in to get a slice of pizza, when he was working at Spago.
“I was getting a little burnt out working for Wolfgang because it was 18 hour days, lunch and dinner shift.. I really wanted to open my own place,” Eskowitz said. “So there was a little for sale sign one day when I was walking by.”
With the help of friends and family and two bank loans, Eskowitz was able to open Manhattan Pizzeria in 2000.
Since then he met his wife Stephany, who worked at Diane's Beachwear in Manhattan Beach, and they had two sons, Jack and Zachary. He also opened the Italian restaurant Bobby's in 2014, but that lasted two years.
In the years he worked getting Bobby's afloat, he felt he neglected the Manhattan Pizzeria. So currently his is “getting the place back in shape” with some renovations inside and out.
Manhattan Pizzeria is located at 133 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
For more information, visit manhattanpizzeriamenu.com.