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Mama’s Food Shop Closes After 15+ Years: ‘It’s Just Too Damn Hard’

mama'sMelvin Felix

Mama’s Food Shop, a cheap-eats joint that had been a mainstay of the ever evolving and increasingly upscale East Village dining scene, closed last night after more than 15 years in business. Its proprietor, Jeremiah Clancy, sent The Local a statement addressed to patrons, supporters, and fans that cited “increasing rents and property taxes, and the constant expenses that arise when maintaining an older building.” He wrote, “I now join the ranks of Kate’s Joint, Zaitzeff, Life Café, and Lakeside Lounge; all business that have folded in a neighborhood going through a period of flux,” and went on to complain: “We live in a city where the Health Department has far too much power, the cost of the permits, inspections, and maintenance are so high it is impossible for a Mom & Pop operation to keep up with.”

The move comes just a few months after the shuttering of the restaurant’s short-lived Williamsburg outpost. At that time, Mr. Clancy, who took over for longtime owner Michael Rosenfeld in 2007, said he was open to finding an investor for the East Village location.

In 1999, The Times’ “$25 and Under” critic Eric Asimov, in a $10-and-under roundup, wrote that “this little self-serve restaurant with just a few tables, offers homey American dishes that are the equivalent of white picket fences and shady elm trees.” The menu and the business model – which called for customers to order a meat and a side (or three) at the front counter – never changed much, and the place never did score a liquor license. Brunch was eventually added and the restaurant got a boost from an appearance on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” but it apparently wasn’t enough.

Here’s Mr. Clancy explaining his decision to call it quits. Read more…

Friend House Closes After Bankruptcy Filing

photo(183)Daniel Maurer Workers removed kitchen items today.

Friend House, an Asian restaurant and lounge that brought in a weekend party crowd, has closed amid a bankruptcy filing, lawsuits, and mounting debt. The deathblow came Monday when a city marshal turned possession of the space over to the landlord.

The eatery at Third Avenue and 13th Street applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last June, court papers show. At the time, it cited $675,995 in liabilities, including over $491,200 in rent arrears, more than $86,206 owed to Renaissance Development Corp., and smaller debts to food and wine vendors. According to papers filed last week, the company also owes about $87,000 to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and about $24,000 to the city Department of Consumer Affairs. Read more…

The Nuyorican Is Closed For Repairs

EAST VILLAGE nuyorican poets cafeGloria Chung The Nuyorican Poets Cafe at 236 East Third Street.

Several visits from city inspectors have led to the temporary closing of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Daniel Gallant, the executive director, told The Local.

The cafe tweeted the news earlier today, and Mr. Gallant clarified — a little — over the phone.

“The building is quite old. Some of the space we’re hoping to renovate,” he said. “We’ve had a few different city inspectors come in since the end of the year — we just figured it’s probably the best thing to do repairs.”

Mr. Gallant did not wish to go into further details before again meeting with city inspectors.

The Nuyorican building does not show any recent violations or complaints on the Department of Buildings website. Mr. Gallant said he should know when the cafe will reopen by Wednesday.

Hottie Gets Dumped: St. Marks Shop Closes for Good

IMG_2961Stephen Rex Brown Workers packed up at Hottie on Monday night.
IMG_2964Stephen Rex Brown Hottie at 5 St. Marks Place.

Employees were spotted packing up the inventory at Hottie on St. Marks Place on Monday night.

Aurora Berdejo, a sales associate at the gaudy jewelry store between Second and Third Avenues, would only say it was closing for “personal reasons.” Another employee, Olivia Lee, said that the store had been open for four years, and that the rent was $10,000 per month.

A “For rent” sign was already up in the window.

Locals Lament End — For Now — of Life Cafe

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope Life Cafe.

Dismay over the sudden closing of Life Cafe — an East Village mainstay for 30 years — swiftly spread around the neighborhood on Monday.

“You have been an amazing and supportive neighbor for so long. I hope you will be back. Thanks for all you have done for the local artists over all these years,” wrote one commenter on the cafe’s Facebook page.

“Please come back soon. You’re a NY landmark. Hate to see all your employees out of work,” wrote another. Read more…