It’s still unclear whether Brother’s Pizza will remain open amid rumors it will close, but the original owner is set to officially back out of the restaurant to focus on Nick’s Pizza & Pasta, which he opened at the Shoppes earlier this year.
Tony Scotto is the co-owner of Brother’s who remains at the Acme location. He said this week the restaurant may stay open but his involvement isn’t known at this time.
Tony didn’t say much more on the topic except that it was “time” for him and other Brother’s owner Nick Scotto “to separate.”
Brother's suffered when Acme closed
Nick Scotto opened Brother’s Pizza in 1978. In 2000, he brought on longtime employee Tony Scotto as an equal partner. Despite the same last name, Nick and Tony are only related by marriage (Nick’s wife and Tony are cousins).
“There was never any doubt that Tony was a partner—50 percent,” Nick said.
Brother’s Pizza flourished until last year, when Acme closed in February and the foot traffic Brother’s was used to had dried up.
“When Acme closed,” Nick said, “I was entertaining the idea of moving.”
Nick said Tony was not interested in that. Around the same time, Nick was talking with a friend from the Shoppes who convinced him to consider the location to get the desperately needed foot traffic, he said.
“I took a vacation to Italy in May (2011),” Nick said. “When I got back, everything changed. That’s when all the problems started.”
Nick said he wanted to bring Brother’s to the Shoppes but Tony still didn’t want to move. Nick wanted to bring the name and phone number, but said Tony didn’t agree to that either.
Tony declined to to comment further on the topic.
The rent situation
Last year, when the business began to suffer, Nick said the two couldn't pay the whole monthly rent without dipping into their own pockets. The pair agreed to pay a percentage of the rent but the landlord came knocking, Nick said.
“If you don’t pay,” Nick said the landlord told them, “we’re going to lock the doors on you.”
A settlement was reached on the back rent, Nick said, and an agreement was made with the landlord for the rest of this year. But only for the rest of this year.
“It was the only thing for us to do,” Nick said. “We weren’t making enough money.”
So, Nick decided to back out completely to focus on Nick’s Pizza & Pasta. The two are currently figuring out where to go from here.
When Tony became co-owner, Nick said, there was only a verbal agreement—no written contract.
“My mistake is that I should have written something down,” Nick said.
Nick is still co-owner of Brother’s and since he’ll be parting ways with Tony, Nick wanted to be paid for half of the equipment.
“I should have protected myself more,” Nick said. “This was my mistake. But I never thought it would have ended this way.”
Both Nick and Tony have until Dec. 16 to sign an agreement that would reimburse Nick for the equipment at Brother’s, said Nick. That agreement also says Brother’s must change their name and phone number; neither entity would be able to use it.
“The food and recipe—they can do what they want,” Nick said. “I’m not going to make them change. If you got something that works, you’re not going to change it. That’s not why I am doing this.”
Nick said a third party may be involved with Brother’s now, but when asked, Tony declined to comment until next week.
“I did this because I think that Brother’s Pizza belongs to me,” Nick said. “If he agrees to it, we have a deal. I’m not here to hurt Tony or his family. But I’m here to protect mine. I have no problem with Tony. There is plenty of business in town for the both of us.”
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