Cobble Hill restaurant Brucie — known for its rustic Italian fare and irreverent Kimye and Beyonce-themed meals — is closing its doors after Valentine's Day, chef and owner Zahra Tangorra says. It debuted more than five years ago and has since become a neighborhood favorite. Tangorra, who previously worked as an artist, says she opened Brucie when she was 25-years-old and she felt like she had something to prove. Now, her priorities have changed, and she's ready to move on. "It is the hardest and saddest decision I have ever made," Tangorra says.
Running a small restaurant has simply become too difficult economically, she says. The rising minimum wage laws and no-tipping trends may work for bigger restaurateurs like those operated by Danny Meyer, but it's impossible for her small restaurant to compete on talent, Tangorra says. If one of her cooks left, "it would be an insane struggle to find another human," she says. The sheer number of restaurants in New York makes the business competitive for customers, too, she adds. While her rent costs haven't been terrible, all the other costs have added up. "It becomes increasingly hard to compete with big restaurants," Tangorra says. "It's the order of things in life. Sometimes you get swallowed up by a bigger fish."
Tangorra's ambitions have also changed. Brucie was "incredibly personal" and required her constant presence, she says. She still loves cooking and the food world, but she'll likely pursue catering, writing, or consulting. And for some final celebrating, Brucie will be throwing parties for New Year's and Valentine's Day. "We're all just trying to get by and get through the day," she says. "At the end of the day, you have to choose happiness and life, and that's more important." See below for Tangorra's parting note:
Dear New York,
How do I explain how deeply I love you? Your vivaciousness, your energy, your people, the smell of your hair.......
It has been my greatest honor to be in this relationship with you these past 5 1/2 years. Every day that we spent together was a new adventure. I felt privileged to have lasted in a love affair with such a fickle and fiery partner , knowing that the tenure of our union was in fact a testament to my character as well. When you bestowed gifts upon me, when your inhabitants filled my room, when your critics sang my praise, the world stopped. I never imagined that I could have lasted so long with someone like you, and the fact that you showed me love for so long and love so great has made my life feel like it meant something.
But, as you might be sensing from the mellow dramatic tone of this letter, I need to say goodbye. I need to move on and find my peace, my real purpose, my grown up identity. Every second was a gift and a pleasure and while you will probably soon forget me, please know I will never forget you or what you have done for me, it has meant everything, and I will love you the most for the rest of my life.
Goodbye New York, I will be closing my doors February 15th. I don't know where I am going , but I know where I have been, and it was in the arms of the greatest city in the whole wide world. My staff and I look forward to all the new adventures and opportunity you have to share. While this part of our relationship is over, I really think and hope we can stay friends. Thank you. I love you. Take care.
Oh, you left your toothbrush here, I'm just going to throw it out.......