Like many restaurateurs, Dirt Candy owner and chef Amanda Cohen has twisted and turned her way through the pandemic, making countless pivots to keep up with safety precautions and ever-changing government regulations in light of the public health crisis. But the veteran chef says that, over time, the constant barrage of changes that forced her to rethink every bit of the business — including raising the price of her lauded, vegetable-focused five course tasting menu to paying higher wages for her staff — resulted in unexpected payoffs.
In a long profile published in Bloomberg today, Cohen discloses that “the late-2021 version of Dirt Candy is more profitable than it’s been at any point in its 13-year history,” according to the report. Group reservations are more popular now, and customers are coming in and spending more money than they have in the past. “We’re doing Friday night numbers every day of the week,” Cohen tells Bloomberg. Additionally, raising wages allowed Cohen to more easily attract and retain staff while the industry underwent historic labor shortages.
Mikio Shinagawa, the owner behind Soho mainstay Omen, dies
Mikio Shinagawa, the restaurant owner and artist behind Japanese restaurant Omen, in Soho, has died. The New York Times reports that Shinagawa, who was 66, died in a hospital in Kyoto, Japan, on November 17. Shinagawa’s sister told the Times that the cause of death was liver cancer.
Shinagawa’s Omen, which first opened in 1981, features a straightforward menu of Japanese fare including sushi, sashimi, and housemade udon noodles in a dashi broth. Over the years, the restaurant became known as a lowkey celebrity hangout for bold-faced names in the fashion and art worlds. Past diners have included Richard Gere, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, and Susan Sontag, according to the Times.
Community rallies to save Casa Adela
Dozens of local residents rallied on Saturday to show their support for Casa Adela, a 45-year-old Puerto Rican institution in Alphabet City whose future is up in the air following a steep proposed rent hike on the space. According to EV Grieve, Casa Adela’s landlord wants to increase the rent from $1,350 per month to $6,750 per month over the next two years — a staggering rise that is not feasible for the restaurant, according to current owner Luis Rivera.
The days are numbered for the Morton Williams near NYU
Crain’s New York reports that NYC’s School Construction Authority has “exercised an option” to demolish the Morton Williams grocery store at 130 Bleecker Street, near LaGuardia Place. In its place, the city intends to build a public school “for special-needs students,” according to the report. Crain’s did not specify when the demolition will take place.