After two decades of slinging pies, Cameli’s Pizza will close its Poncey-Highland outpost that sits adjacent to the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and Ponce City Market. A spokesperson for owner George Cameli tells Creative Loafing redevelopment in the area — specifically changes at the Kroger grocery store that shares a parking lot with the pizzeria — is to blame for the shutter.
“The redevelopment of the Kroger on Ponce has made the parking situation [at Cameli’s] unbearable and sales [have] declined sharply since construction began just after the Kroger closed for business on October 29, 2016,” Cameli’s marketing and communications manager Jason Neubert tells CL. “Although Cameli’s has the right to extend its lease for another five-year term, doing so would be unsustainable considering the condition of the property and the negative impact the redevelopment has had for the business.”
When Cameli’s opened in 1996, even the ideas for the BeltLine and Ponce City Market did not exist. Last September, Cameli voiced his concerns about gentrification in a statement posted on Facebook. The restaurateur worried changes in the neighborhood would spell doom for his business.
“Cameli’s has been on Ponce for 20 years and I’m happy there is so much interest in the intown neighborhoods that I fell in love with 20 years ago,” he wrote. “I’d like to think that Cameli’s Pizza has played a part in cultivating a sense of community in our intown neighborhoods, and I’d like to think that we’re one of the many reasons that living intown can be so enjoyable. For me, it would be tragic irony to think that in some way our efforts to help improve our intown neighborhoods may ultimately lead to our demise.”
While the Poncey-Highland location is closing, Cameli says his Little Five Points outpost will remain open.
• All Shutters [EATL]