Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ost Cafe closes on Sunday



The rumors you may have heard in recent days are true: Ost Cafe on Avenue A at 12th Street is closing its doors on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Here's the message from ownership on the Ost Facebook page:

It has been a good run. We love being part of the neighborhood, and part of all of your lives.

Unfortunately, our little corner of 12th St and Ave. A has become too expensive to stay open any longer. The East Village (the commoditized version of it that is controlled by the Real Estate industry) is moving on up, and they seem to have forgotten to set any place at the table for small businesses. The City of New York is complicit in this change, cheering from the sidelines for more, bigger, taller, and pocketing the tax revenue. Alas.

Short of charging $10 a cup, we can no longer make ends meet selling just coffee and wine, and options are limited. “Ost CafĂ© and 24-Hour Vape Shop Emporium” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

We will close the doors on Sunday at 5PM for the last time. Stop by and say hello in the next few days, and thank you for making the past 9 years such a wonderful experience. Our Lower East Side location on Grand St is going strong, and we will always call this community home.

The cafe opened here in December 2008.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nicely written goodbye.

Gojira said...

Holy crap, has it really been 9 years?!? I remember when they first opened, I was between jobs at that point, and would go and sit in the almost empty room and admire the gorgeous radiators, and drink lovely coffee - it was quiet, and soothing, and of course it could not last. They became popular, and while I was glad for them, the ambience was gone, and I'd just go in, dodge the tables full of people nursing one cup for five hours so they could use the Wifi, and get my order to go. Will miss the nice folks behind the counter, and the benches they have outside where, unlike The Bean, they'll let you sit and not call the cops on you if you're not holding one of their cups; guess I'll stop by on Saturday for a last farewell.

It's a never-ending series of funerals down here...

weigone said...

Shocked. But I guess I shouldn't be. This is one of my all-time favorite spots in the entire city, and I've been coming here for really good lattes for 6 of those 9 years. Very, very sad to see it go.

Goggla said...

Nooo! Ost is one of my favorite coffee places. They rank number one for taste on my personal neighborhood list of coffee shops. Nice people, chill atmosphere, great all-around neighborhood hangout. They will be missed.

This plus Love Shine is a real double-blow this week.

Honestly Interested said...

Too bad...this place had decent coffee.

Can someone out there explain the economics of the coffee shop business to me?

Regular coffee at Ost (and others) cost in the $3 to $4 dollar range. Ice coffee in the $4 to $5 range.

What if you dropped prices by a 1/3 or 1/2? I assume you'd see a bump in volume. More opportunity to sell other items. Could the volume offset the lower per cup revenue?

Great coffee at cheap prices seems like a winning formula.

Anonymous said...

I have been in the EV and LES for nearly 20 years now. Lately I've been thinking of moving out of NYC. Sadly, all of these closings make me feel like I won't be missing much. Very sad.

Greg Masters said...

Awful news. Sorry to be losing this comfortable hangout with good coffee, friendly staff and chill atmosphere. A bit of "old" EV disappearing, the kind of place that makes living in the hood so enriching. Bummed.

Anonymous said...

Bad and getting worse. Another classic place bites the dust. Glad the other location is hanging in there

Anonymous said...

Bad and getting worse. Another classic bites the dust. De blasio- where are you taking us?

Anonymous said...

Dammit. There are so few cafes with character as options. First Alt, then Cafe Pick Me Up, now Ost. Where to next, to linger over coffees with a good book and some candlelight?

Anonymous said...

Cafe Pick Me Up, Ost- exactly the kind of places you come to NYC for. Starbucks, Caff Bene- I didn't think so.

Giovanni said...

Aw crap. I started going there on day 1, but gradually stopped going over the years other than for takeout-- it just became too crowded and cramped most of the time and with the quirky seating options you had to shoehorn your way in. They had great hamentashen, good coffee, a decent bathroom, nice staff. But then they put in a restrictive Wifi policy, and people would start clearing out by sundown when they tried to transform into a wine bar in the evenings, so that also drove some people away. Too bad, we're losing another nice spot.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I was walking by this place two days ago with a friend, and we talked about how we both stopped going to Ost because of the attitude of the people who ran the place. I guess we weren't cool enough or young enough to be part of the crew. Neither one of us ever felt welcome like we do at spots like Ciao For Now and B Cup. Did anyone else feel the same, or is it only us? I am curious!

Anonymous said...

@3:18PM I know what you mean--I think a place with this vibe probably belonged more in Williamsburg or Bushwick--it never seemed to really fit into the Village like Mud or B Cup or Think Coffee of Cafe Pick Me Up (or especially like the long gone Alt.Coffee). It always seemed a bit out of place which made it stand out. It was much better in the early days, just like everything else.

29yearsanEVresident said...

@3:18 I feel similarly. I always found the vibe and serivce slightly cool and off putting, the coffee uneven and all n' all I never felt it to be a particularly welcoming place. I kept giving it try as it's close to home and convienent but never felt any compelling reason to patronize it beyond that. Still, it was a small independant business that clearly strove for some sort of non-generic identity and for that positive alone I fear for what replaces it on that corner.

Anonymous said...

I always felt a bit profiled but im in quite the yuppie shell and I found their coldness endearing in a way ... huge loss for the block ... i know I need to duck and cover but they should've tried to sling more wine at night and drop those prices a smidge...

The biggest bottomline though is landlords. There needs to be a fair market commercial rent increase cap. Please jah, please.

Anonymous said...

Everyone keep in mind that this is the latest closure because of landlord greed. Last year it was the Pick Me Up closing because Icon Realty's greed. Icon also owns the space rented to The Bean on 1st and 9th.

They close one business but continue to collect enormous rent from another popular coffee place. They win! BOYCOTT or stop bitching!

BOYCOTT the businesses that choose to rent from criminals and maybe the greedy landlords will think twice about running another business out of NYC by doubling or tripling their rent if their spaces will stay empty.

Just sayin...

Bonny McKenzie said...

Sad to hear this. That's a real loss for the neighborhood.

Trixie said...

Yes, @gojira those gorgeous radiators. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Similar experience to Gojira and Giovanni. Was a fantastic experience in the early days (one of the best "true"cappuccinos I'd found. And great poppy seed pastry). But the hood changed, and the people changed. It just became less comfortable to me.

Anonymous said...

That place was always packed. If they can't make it, who can?

Anonymous said...

Cafe Pick Me Up still vacant. Angers me everyday.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear more from the owners of Ost. They don't explicitly say the rent on the space was going up in this notice. So was it raised? I know it is a rough climate, but look at Raclette, the place that operated out of the tiny space next to Ost. They did so well in a couple of years that they were able to move into a much bigger space, the old Northern Spy space, on 12th Street. The guy who ran Raclette was friendly to everyone. That makes a difference when you are running a small business.

Anonymous said...

Very sad. Another one bites the dust.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize there was an Ost on Grand Street. It is hard to operate not one but two small coffee shops when you have limited means. Ciao For Now also expanded and went back to having one space. I wish them luck keeping the Grand Street location going. If they had to pick one, I wish they had kept the original 12th Street shop in operation!

Anonymous said...

I'm 73 years old, a life long resident of the now so called East Village (and I thought I grew up on the Lower East Side! - and my Grandparents thought they lived in Kleindeutschland!) Anyway - I certainly didn't feel welcome at Ost the last few years! Although B-Cup is always very nice to me. Well the cranks can wail as they do - but it is still my neighborhood. And for Ost - well they were Yuppie newcomers nine years ago! Give me back the old Ya-Ya on the corner of 14th & B - oh their pies! their sandwiches! Of course I groused when Life Cafe was a newcomer! If only I could once again drown my sorrows with a night at Old Stanley's that was at Ave B & 12th St. Somebody needs to write something about the huge crazy brawl that took place very late the night JFK died at Old Stanley's. Somewhat set it off with a disparaging remark about our late President an all Hell broke loose! Ah, but what do I know at my age? Let the newcomers and crying cranks go on. I guess I'll stay home more!

Maurice said...

said it once, will say it a million times: no one comes to new york to go to 7-11 and the bank.

smarten up, nyc

Anonymous said...

Is Ost in a Kushner building? I ask because I live in one and there have been some suspicious upgrades as of late and I wonder if all of us should get ready for another 40-building flip.

Anonymous said...

I liked Ost well enough, not their fault the neighborhood is filled with Yuppies who take over every decent space. There was a whole crew of shady suits walking up and down Ave A checking out all the vacant commercial spaces. One older dude looked like he was wearing make up. He was carrying on about how great the spaces were until one of the minions told him that it was unlikely that a bar or lounge would be approved by the Community Board which he couldn't seem to comprehend. They looked and felt like an invading army.

Anonymous said...

At the 73 year old, love you for reading the Grieve and don't stay home, there are some places that would love to see you come by. Keep chiming in and filling us up with great stories.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:12 PM: When you buy a cup of coffee you are also renting a table for an hour or two. Rents are high and higher so $3 caps aren't in the cards unless you can increase turnover. The old Abraca had a great model - small place, limited counter space, constant turnover, and lines because the coffee was excellent and popularity breeds more popularity. I wonder how their new location across the street is doing, as from my jaundiced eye it seems to have lost some of its energy and the rent must be humongous.
- just an observer

Anonymous said...

I lived upstairs and stopped going over the last couple years as the baristas became successively more cold and unwelcoming. I liked the interior but the service got so soulless that I won't miss it.

Anonymous said...

@10:05 PM
It is an invading army of soulless real-estate suits in our neighborhood. One came in my shop and was not interested in what I was selling but had a lot of questions about rents and who the building owners on the block were. I called her a carpet bagger and got a blank stare back. I asked her if she knew what that word meant and she admitted, no.

Sarah said...

Boo.

joseph hanania said...

I discovered this place months ago. I live by the Grand St. location, and did not know of the EV pace, which was a pleasant open air surprise. It was certainly preferable and more homey than a Starbucks, and bigger, more diverse than the place on Grand. Sorry to see it go.

OST & 24hour Vape said...

The coffee sucked but those mochas are fucking amazing. Bye OST, gonna miss you.. Also, not gonna lie, I could of lived with OST & 24-hour vape shop. I don't vape, but I'd have bought papers from you for sure.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that people haven't liked the folks working at Ost. I always perceived it as just leaving me be, but that's me. What I don't like is the cliquish vibe at Mud or the cookie cutter feel of The Bean. Where else do you all go? B Cup isn't my cup of tea. Abraco is great but closes too early.

Sam Lutzer said...

This gem opened when I lived in the East Village and is the whole reason I switched my professional career and have my own specialty coffee roasting business in the Hudson Valley. I was so excited 9 years ago to spend time at Intelligentsias soho lab with Ramin and Steve because of them. An absolute loss for the community!

Anonymous said...

I recall moving in 25 yrs back when Ost and the deli across the street were both undertaker funeral parlors

Jack said...

I didn't go that often so can't comment on the staff. Nice space though. I like the angled entrance and the way it filled with light. Speaking of coffee counter rapport,I was thinking about when Ciao for Now was on the South side of 12th, closer to A. Talk about a vibe, with Pete and Kevin hamming it up behind the counter and Amy's heavenly baked goods, not to mention the colorful clientele...

Anonymous said...

Ost may have been a little ageist...but lots of places can be a little so. I got my coffee and sat outside on their wonderful bench, taking in the sun. The coffee was the thing.

Didn't need any attitude. That's what sunglasses are for...I am still part of the ________ generation, after all. I can take it or leave it each time.

Anonymous said...

It's a coffee shop. No need to be so cliquey. It's also best to be one thing. I didn't like feeling like I had to scoot out the door so this place could turn into a wine bar at night. The coffee was good. It is too bad the guys who ran this place didn't put all of their energy into it. Instead of opening that second shop on the Lower East Side three years ago, they could have cultivated their following here and moved to a larger space here.

Anonymous said...

According to another source the landlord offered them a renewal with the first year at the same price they currently pay then an increase to market over the next few years. Not sure if that is true, but surprised they would throw in the towel if that were the case.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to figure out the economics of business survival in the E.Village :/ sad a place like Ost could not find a way to make it work neither, how much could be the new lease for a place like this corner?