Bianca Piccillo is half of the husband-wife duo behind Mermaid’s Garden, New York’s first fully sustainable seafood market in Brooklyn. A fish biologist and former restaurant industry pro, Bianca is committed to helping New Yorkers eat the most delicious, fresh, sustainable (and traceable!) seafood possible. In this interview, she shares real estate triumphs, wishes and thrills (lucky girl she hasn’t had many woes!).
1. When did you move to New York City? How did your first apartment compare to your expectations of New York living?
I moved to New York eight years ago. Our first apartment (with husband Mark Usewicz) was our only apartment. We’re still here! It came to us through good friends in Massachusetts who were our landlords for many years. It’s just a gorgeous place, in Park Slope, so it really blew our expectations away.
2. What was the biggest real estate challenge you encountered? How did you overcome it?
Personally, we hit the jackpot. When we started looking at spaces for the business (Mermaid’s Garden, their sustainable seafood market), there were many times we lost faith. There are so many awful overpriced spaces out there. We are close to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and that has really changed the real estate dynamic in our neighborhood. We didn’t give up — that was the key. It was rough going though, much rougher than I anticipated.
3. What was your happiest real estate moment? What led up to that moment?
I have two: moving into our lovely apartment and signing the lease on the Mermaid’s Garden space. Two lifetimes of plans led to both.
4. Describe your current apartment. What do you love about it? How would you describe your neighborhood?
It’s a one bedroom with an open flow living/dining space. We have a chef’s kitchen, working fireplace, marble bathroom, and outdoor garden/patio. We love everything about it — we’d be ungrateful jerks if we didn’t! We live in Park Slope. It’s a great neighborhood, but the high commercial rents do prohibit young business owners from moving in. There are a lot of nail salons and charmless bars.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to people looking for an apartment in New York?
Be persistent and creative — I think the best spaces/arrangements come through using your network of personal connections. Ask around!
For more in NYC Real Estate Roller Coaster stories, see our story on Anna Watson Carl.