NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the grand opening of a pizzeria on the Bowery touching off a new debate about what the city should be doing to help small business.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, he came, he saw, and he ate pizza — the New York way this time — just folded over and chomp without the knife and fork.

He was at the grand opening of Gino Sorbillo Pizzeria to renew acquaintances and pay off a debt.

Gino owns the Naples pizzeria where de Blasio publicly tried to live down an incident in Staten Island where he was embarrassingly caught using a knife and fork to eat his pie.

Through translator Giancarlo Mattra, Gino told Kramer he taught the mayor how to eat pizza.

“Yes for sure,” he said.

At other city pizzerias, owners were jealous the mayor wasn’t eating their pies. There was also concern that he hasn’t done enough to help them and other small business owners.

“He should come here, get out of city hall, see people, shake their hands because they’re part of the city. We pay taxes,” he said.

At Bleecker Street Pizzeria, owner Tony Salihaj said he wants de Blasio to reduce the commercial rent tax which he said is killing small businesses.

“If they lower taxes it will be great,” he said.

Tony’s story is similar to many small business owners. His rent has double in the last 15 years. His city tax bill is now $20,000 a year.

“Eventually if things go like they’re going now, all the mom and pop stores will be gone in the future,” he said.

Jessica Lapin of the Downtown Alliance said de Blaiso needs to do more and reduce the commercial rent tax.

“It would be good if we could eliminate the commercial rent tax. It would be a big boon, but also it takes a long time to get permits. If you have to wait 6 to 12 months to get a permit, that can be brutal,” Lapin said.

Councilman Dan Gorodnick has a bill to reduce the commercial rent tax.

“This is a chance to take a bite out of the tax. We need to do it, and we need to do it today,” he said.

In the past, the mayor has said the city couldn’t afford to reduce the commercial rent tax. Now, a spokesman said he’s reviewing it.

 

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