Jose Morales, Business Owner
Jose Morales IS Washington Heights. From his humble beginnings as a kid in Apt 1B, to his community focused, hip hop parties at his bar Apt78, Jose epitomizes what it means to be from The Heights. The Dominican entrepreneur has always been a hustler, trying different businesses, never afraid of failure and always learning. His love for his community can be heard in his voice when he talks about his beloved community, and seen through his actions hanging out in Inwood, greeting customers at his newest venture, Bodega Pizza, or cheering his friends at Dyckman summer league.
Learn more about Jose by watching the video above and reading his answers to additional questions below.
How did Bodega Pizza come to be?
I always played with the idea of a Pizzeria, and I ended up going on vacation and taking my wife and kids to Italy. We spent close to 3 and a half weeks in Italy. My wife was asking me why do you want to close APT 78? I couldn't afford to stay open anymore, I was up to 60,000 in fines alone. If I stay open, I’m going to end up losing the space because I wouldn't be able to afford to stay open. We did what we had to do uptown with APT 78, we had a long run. The space meant a lot to me, it had sentimental value to me. So when I got back from Italy, I said I'm going to do the Pizzeria. I come from a Bodega background, my dad owned bodegas in the 80s and early 90s and my major complaint on Twitter 3 or 4 years ago was that we were losing the element of the bodega in Washington Heights. Bodegas, Salons, Restaurants, Barber Shops, that’s the heart of uptown. We were losing that element.
What's your favorite current piece of Nike footwear?
If I showed you pictures of my sneaker collection it’s like 20 pairs of Air Force 1s. I’ve always loved Air Maxes, I bought a pair two weeks ago.
How would you sum up The Heights?
Culture, Art, Family, Love... it's just inspiring. Washington Heights is just really really inspiring. If folks were to look at the dynamic of this community, I still to this day think it’s the last community in New York City. There's a lot of culture, it's a hard working community. That's why there's so much noise and traffic, everyone is always grinding here. A lot of these businesses are community owned which you don’t see anymore in New York City.
"The Unlock box is fire, I'm going to have everybody come to Bodega Pizza to check it out. We love everything that’s happening right now with the opening of the Foot Locker uptown with NikePlus Member Benefits. I love that they're integrating everything from the community. We're looking forward to it."