40 years young: Skinflints rolls back prices for 40-year anniversary
Talk about a good deal.
Bay Ridge mainstay Skinflints celebrated its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, July 28 by rolling back its menu prices to match those of the eatery’s first bill of fare, offering up everything from BLTs to burgers – all for under six bucks.
“It’s been good,” said owner Gerard Bell of both the anniversary’s turnout and the restaurant’s four decades on Fifth Avenue. “We’ve had a great run and the best part is that it’s still a pleasure to come into work.”
The commemorative menu (an actual photo-copy of Skinflints’ first) boasted such classics as the fan-favorite bacon cheeseburger (just $2.75 with fries), fish and chips (just $3.00 with fries) and a “diet salad” (just 95 cents).
Bell was joined on the not-so-typical Tuesday evening by partner Bill Gardella, Skinflints’ original owner.
“Forty years went fast,” said the Bay Ridge native, remembering not only Skinflints’ early years but also the old-timey ice cream parlor that once stood in its place. “There are a lot of people – employees and customers – who have been here for many, many years. And they’re still coming back.”
Gardella gave credit to the late Bill McAvoy, one of the eatery’s original owners.
“He put his blood, sweat and tears into Skinflints,” remembered Gardella’s wife, Diane.
Bell – who started out as a bartender and went on to partner with Gardella – attributed the longevity to a feeling of ancestry at the dine-in watering hole.
“We built a family here,” he said, noting that – besides a few modern touches – not much has changed on the inside of the eatery. “It’s more than just staff. We treat [our employees] like family and, many times, we have actual families – grandparents, parents, children – working here to make a living.”
“When people ask me about Skinflints, the only thing that comes to mind is ‘Cheers,’” she said, stressing that Skinflints is the kind of neighborhood place where “everyone knows your name.”
They know the name Skinflints, too.
“It’s truly recognizable,” she said, adding that a Skinflints t-shirt of hers has started conversations as far out as New Jersey, where she and her husband now reside. “It’s incredible how many people have heard of Skinflints and just how many people know the significance of a Skinflints burger.”
The secret to a Skinflints burger? Its owners will never tell.
“That’s a testament to the kitchen staff; they are tremendous,” said Bell. “They truly make this place.”
Though, longtime patrons like Joe Nardi were quick to sing the owners’ praises.
“Gerard and Bill are dynamite guys,” said Nardi, a Bay Ridge resident who’s frequented Skinflints his whole life. “Skinflints is the best. It’s a great, comfortable place to go and grab a bite to eat with a friend.”
Ridgeite Maria DeVito agreed.
“I’ve been coming here since I was in high school,” she said. “This is a really special place to me.”
To Bell, the true success lies in Skinflints’ ability to keep its stakes in the ground.
“It’s a milestone for us,” he said. “Not many businesses are in business this long – especially restaurants around here.”
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