[Photo of Leslie McEachern from 2016 by James Maher]
After 40-plus years of serving vegetarian cuisine in the East Village, Angelica Kitchen is closing its doors after service on April 7.
Owner Leslie McEachern confirmed the news yesterday, saying in a statement that "Making the numbers work week in and week out is just not viable for us anymore."
In September 2014, the restaurant on 12th Street near Second Avenue launched a public awareness campaign to help keep its doors open.
Earlier in 2014, McEachern signed a new 5-year-lease for $21,000-plus a month. As Gothamist pointed out, that rent "doesn't include additional expenses including utilities, taxes, insurance, payroll, etc."
Angelica made some other changes then, including updating "its menu to include iced and hot coffee, as well as natural wines, and brought in an ATM to accommodate an increasingly cashless culture," per Eater.
[EVG photo from 2015]
The restaurant first opened in 1976.
In an interview for EVG in January 2016 for EVG, McEachern talked about how she got involved with Angelica.
I had started a small business representing certain natural foods, but I was going to different health-food stores around the country and trade shows and demonstrating their products. One day in 1981, I was at Greenberg’s. It was a very old school natural food store on First Avenue, between Seventh and St. Mark's Place. I was in there doing a miso demonstration and handing out samples and Frank Simons, the guy who had just bought Angelica Kitchen, walked in. I didn’t know him at the time but I had been a fan of Angelica. He and I caught each other’s eyes, to say it mildly. We got engaged and I moved from the mountains of North Carolina to New York to be with him. That was what got me here – falling in love and doing the right turn so many of us know about.
Angelica was at 42 St. Marks Place at that time. It was a small place and we had very few seats, so we had an open policy about seating. People came in and sat in any empty chair in the restaurant, whether it was a two top or a four top, so lots of connections were made that way. That was very fun. It was very community spirited. Organic wasn’t as much of an issue at that time but there were a lot of products available. That became my mission once I was in charge of the restaurant after Frank died. I really believed in the small, independent organic farmer as stewards of the land, so I was able to get on my soapbox through having Angelica Kitchen and really support the farmers.
She moved to the current location at 300 E. 12th St. in 1987.
Meanwhile, a group calling themselves Friends of Angelica Kitchen have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay off remaining expenses.
Sadly, as a result of increased rent and operating costs combined with reduced patronage, the restaurant has been operating at a loss for over two years. Having poured all of her personal resources into the business in an attempt to sustain it, that effort has failed and she's now deeply in debt. Leslie feels a commitment to avoid having her difficulties adversely affect local farmers and small independent businesses, some of whom have been with Angelica Kitchen since the beginning.
Our goal for this fundraiser is $245,000.00. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to resuscitate Angelica Kitchen, but Leslie has many significant financial issues to deal with and would be grateful if Angelica could close with a clean slate, without financially damaging the small businesses who stood by her, some for 40 years.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Angelica Kitchen is latest East Village restaurant in danger of closing (35 comments)
More about Angelica Kitchen's uncertain future
Out and About in the East Village with Leslie McEachern