How Kim Kardashian Is Bringing Buzz (and Business) to Staten Island

 How Kim Kardashian Is Bringing Buzz (and Business) to Staten Island

When people first started arriving in Campania, a Staten Island restaurant known for its coal-fired pizza, and asked about “Kim,” Nicole Bressi, a server there, didn’t get much of it. .

“I was like,‘ Kim’s gone today, but come back tomorrow, ’” Ms. Bressi. “It took me a few moments to realize that they weren’t talking about my friend Kim, who works here with me. They were talking about Kim Kardashian.

In November, Ms. Kardashian, the reality television star and influencer who recently sparked debate when she wore a Marilyn Monroe dress at this year’s Met Gala, visited the restaurant in Dongan Hills, one of several Campania’s throughout the borough and Brooklyn . He was accompanied by his girlfriend, comedian and actor Pete Davidson, who was born and raised on Staten Island.

News broke of the couple’s romantic date on the roof of Campania, where they skipped truffle mac and cheese and a $ 150 seafood tower, opting for margherita pizza, salad and sangria instead. Soon, people crowded the restaurant.

“It’s crazy,” said Umberto Guzman, a manager. “The phone was ringing from the hook, and we had a long line every day. People wanted to sit on the roof all winter because he was sitting there, but I had to explain to them that the roof was closed because it was cold. . ”

Six months later the attention has not disappeared.

“A lot of people have asked us about Kim, we’ve been making up stories,” Ms. Bressi. “I wasn’t here when Kim was here, but now I say,‘ Yeah, we’re having coffee. That was great. ‘”

Mr. Davidson has long been an ambassador for his home borough, made a movie about it based on his life and bought a disused Staten Island Ferry boat, with plans to do so. which is a pleasure. He apparently has a condo on Staten Island as well, though he didn’t leave any notices about moving to Brooklyn. One of his most famous skits on “Saturday Night Live,” where his departure was recently announced, was the take on the song “Walking in Memphis,” using lyrics about Staten Island. “We got 80 bagel spots and each block had a pizza place,” he sang.

He took his famous girlfriend to all of his favorite places on Staten Island. The media and fans of Ms. Kardashian – and the locals looking for a kick – have noticed.

Some say the attention is overwhelming. “I don’t want a line anymore because it annoys my customers,” said Mr. Guzman. “We have been busy since we opened in April because of our amazing food, and service. We don’t even need him. ”

The couple also went to the movies on Staten Island. “You can’t be bigger than Kim Kardashian,” said Jesse Scarola, owner of Atrium Stadium Cinemas, an independent theater near Great Kills with 11 screens and arcade games. “The president may be here, and it won’t be any bigger.”

When Ms. Kardashian visited in the winter for a screening of “Gucci House,” hundreds of people bought tickets or waited in the parking lot for a quick look.

“My kids saw him on social media and got in the car to try and see him,” said Christina Ortalano, 46, a managing director at Bank of America who lives in Prince’s Bay, on the South Shore. “Some people act like they don’t care, but they do it. People are star-struck. ”

Mr. Scarola, the owner of the Atrium, still draws inspiration from a one-time visit by Ms. Kardashian. “Someone called a few weeks ago, someone from out of town, saying he wanted to go to the theater that Kim was visiting,” he said. “He rented the whole theater for his friends and paid for popcorn and food for everyone.”

Staten Island Councilor Joseph Borelli is grateful the cineplex got attention. “The atrium is kind of a throwback to an old time where kids would hang out in the cinema and laugh in the back with their friends,” he said. “The atrium was destroyed during the pandemic, and it’s good that their name is on paper for a good cause.”

Vincent Malerba, owner of Angelina’s Ristorante, a chandelier-clad, waterfront restaurant in Tottenville, said he’s no stranger to celebrities. “There were two studios on the block, one in the old prison and one in the old beer, so we got tons of it,” he said. “But no one did to us what Kim did.”

A photo he took with the couple garnered thousands of likes on Instagram. “We haven’t had exposure like that yet,” Mr. Malerba said. “People are starting to come in from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, South Jersey, everywhere.” She hopes people will go for Ms. Kardashian but will be back for good food and service.

“We’ve always known that Angelina’s and Campania are two of the biggest restaurants in the city,” said Mr. Borelli. “That’s good for the Staten Island food scene as a whole.”

In fact, the number of visitors to Clinton Hall, a new outdoor bar on the waterfront of Empire Outlets in St. Louis. George, has doubled in the past three months, said Telly Hatzigeorgiou, the owner. “There are a few things going on; not even a one-trick pony, ”he said. “It’s hot now. After Covid, people want to come out. But I think Kim definitely has something to do with it as well. I hear people talking about him all the time. ”

Of course, not everyone wants Staten Island to get more attention.

Every summer Ruby Hernandez, who works in learning and development at an accounting firm and lives near Times Square, flees to Staten Island with her boyfriend to the quiet beach. “I won’t tell you where it is,” he said.

“If Kim goes there I want to take a picture with her, but I don’t want people to follow,” she said. “I want my beach to remain undetected. Nice and quiet and not dirty.”

Jan Zabka, a journalist from Prague, visited Staten Island last week to see the Manhattan skyline from afar. As a tourist, she said she was more interested in seeing another female celebrity, one made of brass: the Statue of Liberty.

Mr. Borelli, the councilor, said he hopes that once visitors to the island, they will explore. “I think they’ll be shocked to find out how much fun is out here,” he said. “There are four miles of hiking and mountain bike trails on my block.”

Some Staten Island residents enjoy having more charm in their daily lives. “If I go out to put my cigarettes on the rocks by the river I can see Pete coming out of his condo, which is right next to the museum,” said Jim Sarlo, 61, a site manager at the National Lighthouse Museum, said last Sunday, though he wasn’t sure the comedian was still alive. He said he saw Ms. Kardashian who left Mr.’s condo. Davidson and headed to the ferry a few times as well.

“I’ll just say,‘ Hey, sup? ’” He said. “That’s what we said on Staten Island.”

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