If the patriots involved in the Boston Tea Party were alive today and were New York pizza enthusiasts, they might have found an ally in artist and activist Scott LoBaido. Instead of defending against overreach by the British crown, this modern freedom fighter has taken a stand against an insidious threat to an American favorite — pizza. Echoing the enthusiasm of Patrick Henry, LoBaido declared from the gates of City Hall, “Give us pizza or give us death!”
This dramatic protest in the Big Apple is not without cause. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently unveiled a mandate targeting pizzerias with coal-and-wood-fired ovens, demanding they reduce carbon emissions by up to 75%. The DEP spokesman, Ted Timbers rationalized the rule, saying, “All New Yorkers deserve to breathe healthy air.”
Good man. https://t.co/yfJQVA6fhQ
— Lara Logan (@laralogan) June 27, 2023
While cleaner air is something we can all get behind, the implications of this rule are not as palatable. The mandate could force the affected pizzerias, potentially numbering up to 100, to shell out around $20,000 each to install and maintain air filtration systems. According to Paul Giannoni, the owner of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, “It’s not just the expense of having it installed, it’s the maintenance.”
As Americans who value free enterprise, we must question whether this new rule isn’t a tad overcooked. In its pursuit of environmental causes, the city’s government disregards the profound economic impact on small businesses already under the weight of ever-increasing regulation.
The new rule could particularly impact historic establishments like Lombardo’s in Little Italy, Arturo’s in Soho, and John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, which still utilizes traditional coal or wood ovens. The character and history these businesses represent are irreplaceable, yet they might be the hardest hit.
The new law allows restaurants to apply for a waiver or variance, provided they can demonstrate a hardship. However, this feels like little more than a bureaucratic hoop to jump through, given that the very nature of the mandate already puts these establishments in a hard place.
The culinary impact is another slice of this issue that shouldn’t be ignored. As one anonymous business owner explained, “You f— around with the temperature in the oven, you change the taste. That pipe, that chimney, it’s that size to create the perfect updraft, keeps the temp perfect, it’s an art as much as a science.”
The idea that a city government would willingly meddle with the recipe of such a beloved institution is disheartening. It is a stark reminder of how regulations, while well-intentioned, can often overstep their bounds and tamper with the cherished traditions that make our communities unique.
LoBaido’s pizza protest is not just a knee-jerk reaction against environmental policy; it’s a resounding cry for the city’s bureaucrats to put people, tradition, and small businesses first. After all, New York without its iconic pizza would be like the Fourth of July without fireworks — a shell of its former self.