After 17 years of serving the West Village an Asian-French fine-dining menu in a relaxed setting, Annisa is closing its doors tomorrow. The restaurant celebrated its last week by inviting back past chefs to cook interpretations of the restaurant’s greatest hits, in honor of the chef — owner Anita Lo — who started their careers.
Though Lo may be closing Annisa’s doors, her legacy is felt among front of the house and chef alums who have gone through the restaurant, such as Suzanne Cupps, who is now Untitled’s first female executive chef. At a dinner where the chefs spoke of Lo’s influence on them, Lo teared up.
Financial and personal issues prompted Lo’s decision to close, with real estate taxes that have more than doubled to $80,000 combined with a higher minimum wage. One year ago, Lo eliminated tipping, instead incorporating gratuity into the price of the meal, which the restaurant industry is still struggling to make work financially. Despite four more years on the lease, she decided to cut her losses.
Annisa hasn’t been Lo’s only venture, though it has been her most successful, leading to multiple James Beard “Best Chef: New York” nominations and three stars from the Times’ Pete Wells in 2014. Beyond Annisa, she also partnered on Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in 2005, making her one of the first chefs to wade into the fast-casual scene. She parted ways with the project in 2010, reportedly to focus on Annisa. Bar Q, her other more casual venture, was well-received but also ended one year after it opened in 2009.
As for the future of fine dining in New York City, Lo told Eater last summer that, “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.”
Lo has not yet announced her next steps. Stay tuned.