News came down last week that S'MAC had closed its satellite operation at First Park after nearly 18 months at the location off of East Houston and East First Street. S'MAC took over for Veselka at the kiosk in January 2012.
We reached out to Caesar Ekya, who owns and operates S'MAC with his wife Sarita, for more details about the decision and the future at First Park.
On running the kiosk:
"We had high hopes for it. It is such a lovely park and neighborhood, and we felt that it would be great to be part of it and help develop it into something better.
But the sales didn't materialize and we ended up losing money there every week that we were open. We tried different formats, timings, product mix, even started delivering, but were not able to raise sales to a break-even number.
We still have more ideas for it and more things on our list to try but then, in the past few months, two things happened that made us decide to give it up. One was the opening of the Murray Hill location and the other was the Health Department mandated closure of the East Village original.
With those two events we realized that we needed to bring our focus back to the two locations that we know work and are profitable, and so the decision to close became inevitable."
On the future at First Park:
"We still feel very sad having to close the kiosk. We feel it has a lot of potential for the right vendor and are working with the Parks Department to find someone who can turn into the neighbor it can be.
If we terminate our lease and walk away, then it will go back to a bidding process and will remain closed for the next 6-9 months. So our preference is to try and find someone to assign the lease to. We have talked to a lot of the neighborhood businesses already, especially coffee shops, and there are some potentials in the pipeline. Hopefully, we will know for sure in the next 2-3 weeks."
The S'MAC locations on East 12th Street and in Murray Hill remain open.