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Benkovitz Seafoods closes Strip District store

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

Benkovitz Seafoods, known as one of Pittsburgh's oldest seafood emporiums in the Strip District, has closed.

David Papale, general manager of the business, confirmed the closure in an e-mail to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that stated simply: “Benkovitz Seafoods is closed.”

The late Bernard Benkovitz relocated the restaurant and seafood store to Smallman Street in the 1970s from Centre Avenue in the Hill District, where it operated since Benkovitz's father and uncle founded it in 1910.

The Benkovitz family sold the business in 2007.

Kevin Joyce, owner of The Carlton, Downtown, and past president of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, said the business was “part of the fabric of the city of Pittsburgh.”

“Benkovitz has been synonymous with fresh seafood for as long as I can remember,” Joyce said. “They were surely quality purveyors.”

Henry Dewey, a former fishmonger at Benkovitz who is owner of Penn Avenue Fish Co., was surprised at the closing, especially in the middle of Lent, traditionally one of the busiest times in the industry.

“A customer came in Saturday and said, ‘Hey man, I need some salmon. I went to Benkovitz and the lights are out and the doors are locked,' ” Dewey said.

“They had a rummage sale on Tuesday. Just about everything is gone,” Dewey said.

The closure also surprised the owners of the building that housed Benkovitz.

“I got a call from our property manager on Monday. I think it was to say it was closed,” said Aaron Stauber, a partner in 2225 Smallman Associates, L.P., owners of the building. “The property manager has tried to reach (Benkovitz owners) but has not been able to do so.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed to this report.

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