Lovers of reasonably-priced soul food in the East Village are in mourning today: Mama's Food Shop closed last night after more than 15 years in business. In a statement sent to The Local East Village and others, proprietor Jeremiah Clancy noted the "increasing rents and property taxes, and the constant expenses that arise when maintaining an older building" as reasons for shuttering. We can't help but think that something was missing from Mama's since they stopped serving salmon around a year and a half ago.
Mama's Williamsburg outpost closed a few months after opening last year. Clancy's statement goes on to talk about the climate of the rapidly-changing East Village:
I look forward to seeing what the East Village becomes (Avenues A-C especially), for at this moment it is a neighborhood that is in the midst of change. Avenue B is a ghost town commercially, the community nature of the neighborhood has all but vanished, and it is over-run every weekend by a generation that has no vested interest in the East Village community except to visit on the weekends. By no means is this an indictment to the new, younger generation, it is more of an admission that much of the steady business for bars and restaurants has moved to Brooklyn and the high residential rents have stripped the neighborhood of the artistic/cultured feel it used to be known for.
I feel for those who are opening small businesses in New York City in this day and age. We live in a city where the Health Department has far too much power, the cost of the permits, inspections, and maintenance are so high it is impossible for a Mom & Pop operation to keep up with...I am not against banks or chain restaurants going into neighborhoods, just nervous that this is all that will be left once the small businesses cease to exist.
I will move on, get a full time job, and continue to support the underdog small businesses in and around the city. I simply can’t run one anymore- it’s just too damn hard.
If you're in the mood for fried chicken and other tasty southern fare, look to Bobwhite Supper Counter on Avenue C to fill the country-fried hole in your heart.