Angelica Kitchen is closing April 7 after a 40-year run. The East Village vegetarian restaurant was a pioneer in the genre and typified the anti-establishment vibe that enveloped the neighborhood decades ago.
Owner Leslie McEachern cites the changing dynamic of the neighborhood and real estate as factors that contributed to her decision to close. “Making the numbers work week in and week out is just not viable for us anymore,” says McEachern.
The restaurant has been struggling for the past couple years, with McEachern reaching out for help back in 2014, when she asked people to step up their patronage to the restaurant. “Now more than ever, Angelica's is at risk of becoming a casualty of the business climate and real estate market that has led to the loss of so many other beloved NYC restaurants,” she wrote. She continued:
The increasing number of vacancies and For Rent signs point to how the indie businesses are being turned out due to economic pressures and being replaced by gentrified corporate interests - more banks anyone? - which strip the heart and soul from our home base. We small commercial tenants are being exiled by the very success we produced, while landlords reap the rewards.
In the meantime, the restaurant updated its menu to include iced and hot coffee, as well as natural wines, and brought in an ATM to accommodate an increasingly cashless culture.
Angelica Kitchen opened in 1976 at 42 St. Marks Place, “when the owners bought produce off the backs of farm trucks parked in front of the restaurant,” she wrote in the closing announcement, and from George and Tilly’s, a two-day-a-week storefront farm market on East 5th Street. The restaurant moved to a larger location at 300 E. 12th St. in 1988.
“Never forget where your food comes from,” she writes in the announcement. “Always celebrate the relationship of people to the land and demand high standards from those feeding you!”