EarthMatters Kales It Quits Today: Soy-onara!

Shira Levine has filed many a Making It column using the free WiFi at EarthMatters. On its last day, she penned a eulogy from the cafe and health food store.

P1040508Shira Levine Here’s what is left of the herbs and tinctures. Come tonight if you want to load up on Scientology’s favorite purifying vitamin, niacin before it hits the mean streets of Ludlow.

New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Yet another beloved institution is closing its doors. Today is the last day EarthMatters will feed and entertain us and Friday it will auction off its remaining furniture, fixtures and kitchenware.

Opened in 2001, EarthMatters was a place that mattered to locals and to tourists who bothered going farther down Ludlow Street than Katz’s Deli. It was our Cheers. Sure, most of us thought it was overpriced, but we continued to order bowls of delicious tahini kale, chickpea pesto and beet salads. We shopped for homeopathic tinctures and ayurvedic herbs. We lounged in those shabby couches and chairs.

P1040499Daniel Maurer

The place had its budget-conscious haters, but I was a lover because EarthMatters was a community, my gathering place, my home away from home, my office. It was also a place to ogle healthy-ish types. Moby shopped and ate here. Same with Carlos Leon, Parker Posey, Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry. Once, I sat next to the “Flight of the Conchords” guy, Jemaine Clement, and his wife and baby as they ate their Eggs on a Plate (one of EarthMatters’ most popular breakfast options). I swear on one occasion I saw Robert Pattinson paying for a Kombucha and a Veggie Boogie.

P1040502Shira Levine The sort-of secret rooftop level used to have a
greenhouse roof and now is open-air.

I came armed with a day’s baggage: gym clothes, electronic chargers, my laptop. (The most recent password for free wifi was “reuserecycle.”) I came to EarthMatters to work but also to be pleasantly distracted by random conversation. Each level offered a different experience: downstairs was networky and social. Upstairs was quieter, and was shared by hard-at-work freelancers and Russian models making out with their grungy hipster boyfriends. Way upstairs, outside on the roof, was a kind of secret among regulars – it was simultaneously an unkempt mess and an otherworldly oasis. Even sitting on the benches out front invited an adventure. You never knew who might sit next to you or cycle by, or what adorable dog might stop for a scratch.

P1040504Shira Levine Hard at work on Facebook

At EarthMatters I met some of my most treasured neighborhood friends: Baruch, the troublemaking tech entrepreneur. Jahan, the globetrotting Jewmaican editor. J. J., the yogi-like fitness trainer who traveled to Haiti and the Palestinian territories to work with victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sumi, my marketing and business development guru. Ofer, my crazy, loud-mouthed contractor buddy who lovingly barked orders at anyone within earshot.

They all started as strangers, and others stayed that way: there are only so many old-school hippies with whom one can have the same conversation about how much the city has changed. But then it was fun to take on their legacy when chatting with sweet, bleary-eyed European band members sipping their Green Power Detox with Apple juices. We were all there listening to Pink Floyd, Curtis Mayfield, Led Zeppelin and whatever else was playing on the Pandora stations. The mellow, the crazy, the opportunistic, the lazy, and the hungry, we all waited patiently to use the shoddy bathroom that never ever had paper towels. Oh, EarthMatters we don’t blame you for selling for $6.5 million and buying a farm. Sounds awesome and lovely, but we will miss you like crazy. You mattered.

P1040507Shira Levine And the cheese stands alone. Mostly dairy is left along with some ancient grains and celery.