Greenwich Locksmiths, located in the heart of the Greenwich Village Historic District, is one of our 2018 Village Awardees. Located at 56 Seventh Avenue South for the last several decades, this Village fixture and its owner embody what is truly special about our neighborhood.
“Quirky” is how people tend to describe both the building in which Greenwich Locksmith is housed in and its longtime owner, Phil Mortillaro. In April 1980 Phil purchased the triangular building, which at 19′ x 14′ x 14′, he says is the smallest freestanding building in Manhattan. The façade of the store is made up entirely of keys, a task that took Phil and his son and business partner, Phil, Jr., about a year to complete. The design is inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. There is also a chair made of keys in front of the store. These might be your first clues that Greenwich Locksmith is not your average locksmith. Phil is an artist, a specialist in antique keys, and a self-taught safecracker of great skill. In fact, he’s done work for the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Post Office, and of course many of the residents of the area.
Before Phil bought the building on Seventh Avenue South, he was renting a store in the Union Square area for $175/month. His landlord decided to develop the building and offered to relocate him, but the rent in the new space was almost double. Phil saw a lawyer who negotiated with the landlord, eventually getting $25,000 for Phil in exchange for his vacating the premises. With this money, Phil purchased his current space on Seventh Avenue South.
Phil started his present career at age 14 when he worked for a locksmith after school. At 18 he opened his own store on the Upper East Side (his cousin now runs a locksmith business out of that location). Phil, Jr. specializes in electronic access systems and other high-tech security installations. But he is also an artist and made all the key-based decorations in the Garret West, a bar above 5 Guys on Bleecker Street.
In 2016, a movie was made about Phil called “Do Not Duplicate” and was shown on channel 13.
Please join us to honor Greenwich Locksmiths and the other amazing 2018 awardees on June 6, 2018, in the landmarked Auditorium of The New School. Click here to RSVP.