Ending a 17-year run, chef owner Anita Lo will close her Greenwich Village restaurant Annisa at 13 Barrow St. after service on May 27. She told the The New York Times her real estate taxes have more than doubled to $80,000, that, combined with the higher minimum wage, pushed her to the decision.
“It’s only 4.5 months away,” she wrote in an email to Eater, “and one of the months is a short one.”
She announced the closing with a long lead time, “to give people ample opportunity to come in again, especially the ones who live out of town. We’ve had some amazing regulars over the years who’ve always lived outside of New York, as well as those who have moved in the meantime.”
She mentioned a couple who named their baby Annisa, who she hadn’t been able to get in touch with since they, too, have moved. “All of us at Annisa would love to see everyone again,” she said.
In an interview over the summer, Lo pointed to the struggle of running her stand-alone restaurant shortly after she implemented the no-tipping model. “What you can charge for a meal hasn't kept up with the other rising costs, so you can't just pay people more. Margins have shrunk tremendously,” she told Eater in July.
“We're unfortunately losing lots of fine-dining businesses, and if it keeps going the way it has been with landlords being unchecked and selling to people that don't even live here, New York will just be like any other Mall of America with big chains everywhere,” she said.
This is Lo’s lone restaurant, one that helped her land the James Beard, “Best Chef: New York,” nomination and, in 2014, secured three stars from the Times’ Pete Wells.
Whether it’s her cooking or her concepts, she has been a trailblazer. As early as 2005, she was a part of the fast-casual scene, when she joined Kenny Lao as a partner in Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, a concept that saw mixed success with a truck and three locations through its run until 2013.
Following her partnership with Rickshaw, in 2008, she opened Bar Q, an Asian barbecue spot in the West Village. By 2009, she had to close it. In July 2010 — a year after a devastating fire at Anissa — Lo stepped away from her partnership with Rickshaw Dumpling Bar.
In the July Eater interview, Lo was straightforward about the fate of Annisa. "The drawback is that it’s almost impossible to make a retirement fund on one small place, but then again, there is less risk," she said.
She still had four years on the lease. ". . . I have no idea where I’ll be in the future," she said. "In the meantime, I feel fortunate to still be able to cook in my little place.”
At least until May.