We received the following note via e-mail on Friday night... titled Open letter to EV Grieve and CB3:
Hello. I am a server at Mercadito Cantina. I'm 22 and I grew up here in the East Village. My Dad's from here too. I find many of the comments regarding our closing highly insensitive and offensive.
I'm really sad about our closing. The staff here works very hard and we have become like extended family to each other. Most of us have been working together here for over 2 years. A lot of us are from the area and the owner and mgmt were really cool about hiring us back during off time between semesters to make some extra cash. To wish us gone or to say we were some kind of bad thing for the community is just wrong.
I know for a fact that Cantina often donated food and gift certificates to many local schools and fund-raising events. I know because I got to serve at some of those events. To say that our neighbors didn't like us is also wrong. All of the shop owners on Ave B are very friendly and close. We get discounts at the vintage shop next store so I doubt we were hurting their business at all. I am also confused about some of the comments saying our costumers were 'D Bags' because most of the people I served were locals. Yes, on Friday and Saturday night we'd get some B&T, but that happens everywhere. As far as I ever knew, the neighborhood really liked us.
It is also incredibly insensitive to say it's 'good' we're closing when you think about the fact that around 25 of us are now going to be out of a job. I am a student and I wasn't planning on staying at the restaurant past the summer, but there are other people, especially the chefs, who have responsibilities and families to take care of. The chefs are decent hard-working guys. They don't deserve any bad feelings.
My soon to be ex-manager is also from here. I want to tell you this story about what he did because I think it says all you need to know about whether or not our restaurant was a good place to have in the East Village. Two summers ago, there was a a group of kids running around Ave B basically making it their mission to wreak as much havoc as possible. Knock over the newspaper machines, throw things, yell and scream at random people, etc. They were driving everyone nuts. They gave an especially hard time to the Frank Sinatra looking dude at 11B ... always throwing his to-go menus all over the street and knocking over his special board. Anyone who seen that guy can vouch that he's a tough-looking dude.
So, when my manager told me he was going to get to know these kids and try to hire a couple of them I thought he was A) out of his mind or B) had a death wish. I should mention he's like 5'5 and not intimidating looking at all. Sure enough he hired two of the kids. One of them is still with us as a bus boy. We had a staff meeting around that time and he told us to welcome the new guys as if they were any other new hires. He never got into why he hired those guys and I never asked him but I assume he felt he had some sort of responsibility as a guy running a business in the neighborhood. He is actually a very sweet guy.
A bunch of us got to go to the CB3 meeting when we applied for a full license the second time. Our manager and one of the owners went up there and basically got yelled at by the ladies who ran the meeting. I really felt they were really confrontational and disrespectful at certain points. Almost looking for a fight. Toward the end they asked the crowd if anyone had complaints or anything against granting us our license and no one in the crowd said a word! I thought we were going to get it!
At one point my boss told one of the women on the panel that he really needed the license because the restaurant had a lot of debt and that there was a whole staff of people waiting for good news and that their jobs depended on it. The woman told my manager that if the restaurant closed it would just create new opportunities for someone else. They asked us why we didn't ask for full liquor when we opened and the owner said he wanted to prove that he wasn't going to be a bar but a real restaurant. The woman then accused him of trying to trick her!!! They did not give us the license. They said places like ours were bad for the neighborhood. I wanted my boss to tell them about some of the things we've done. For some reason, he didn't say a word. Maybe he figured it was a lost cause.
I hope you print this letter. I feel that some of the people on this site and CB3 lump all restaurants and bars into one big group and label us all bad without ever bothering to do a little research or find out what we are all about. I also feel that a lot of these people like to sit around and write swear-laced comments and bitch and complain about the good old days but, they never do anything positive. The story I told you about my boss, that's positive. Who on this site or CB3 has done things like that. We are going to close and a lot of us will probably be unemployed for a while before we get another job. But, the real losers are CB3 and the community. Whether you realize it or not is another story.
Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] Mercadito Cantina closing Jan. 30