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They’re trying to stretch their dough.
As inflation skyrockets, NYC’s iconic 99 cent pizza joints are cutting back on mozzarella and marinara sauce in order to keep serving up slices for only a dollar, customers griped to The Post.
“It doesn’t have that real New York pizza taste,” Jerry Johnson, 30, said of the 99 Cent Fresh Pizza in Times Square. “They’re skimping on the cheese, sauce, everything.”
Chowing down on a dollar slice at the 2 Bros. Pizza on the corner of W. 38th Street and 6th Ave., Luke Ericson, 38, said something was missing.
“If I was making this at home, I’d definitely add more cheese,” he said.
While customers have noticed a dip in quality, others are just happy the cheap meal is still an option.
“I eat a slice here at least once a day. It’s delicious and affordable,” said Alex Garay, who lives in a homeless shelter and frequently panhandles outside a Midtown dollar pizza joint. “It’d be a lot harder for me if they increased the price.”
The Deck family from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were on their way to a Broadway show recently when they stopped for lunch at a 2 Bros. for some dollar slices.
“Where we come from, this is pretty good pizza – high and above what you can get for $5 back home,” said Casey Deck.
Despite its popularity, the dollar slice is becoming scarce. Some shops have had to increase their prices, while others struggle to remain a bargain.
“If I increase the price, I lose the customer,” said Quadeer Khan, who runs Best Fresh Pizza in Hell’s Kitchen, which still sells cheese slices for just under a buck.
The Pakistani-born pizza maker and his brother took over ownership of the shop in December 2019, and have since been slammed with supply chain issues, not to mention rising prices for cheese, sauce and flour.
As of May, the average cost per pound of cheese was $5.90 compared to $5.33 during the same time in 2019 before the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Natural gas shot up from up from $1.04 per therm to $1.57, a pound of flour had gone from 45 cents to 46 cents and a pound of tomatoes remained the same at $1.82.
“My profits are much lower, and it’s hard to survive. I might have to close up shop soon,” Khan said.
Now a Big Apple staple, dollar slice shops only began popping up in droves around the Great Recession in 2008. The business model was all about volume instead of profit margins and quality pizza.
Even before the current economic downturn, dollar slice shops had a limited shelf life, said Scott Wiener, the pizza aficionado who runs Scott’s Pizza Tours.
“We’ve started to hit the point where all these 10 or 15 year leases are up,” he said. “So it’s not just the cost of ingredients that is increasing. Rent is going up, too.”
Weiner said having the dollar slice disappear would be a blow to the city.
“There’s something to be said for living in a city where your rent is an arm and a leg, but you can feed yourself for a few bucks,” he said. “It’s kind of beautiful. It’s the dichotomy of New York City: It’s big and expensive, but there’s a way to get by.”