At a time when veganism seems to be reaching the saturation point, we're faced with sad news about East Village stalwart and "before it was cool" vegan spot Angelica Kitchen, which will close in early April. The restaurant's last service will be April 7th, ending a 40-year run, first on St. Marks Place, followed by its current home on East 12th Street.
"Making the numbers work week in and week out is just not viable for us anymore," McEachern in a statement this afternoon.
The restaurant had been struggling for several years, particularly because rents in the area have become almost unbearable for independent businesses. A new lease McEachern signed in 2014 was for over $21,000 a month—keeping in mind that doesn't include additional expenses including utilities, taxes, insurance, payroll, etc.—up from $450 a month when the restaurant first opened nearby on St. Marks Place.
At the time, McEachern told Gothamist she needed "$7,000 a night just to make overhead."
Veganism has exploded in popularity in recent years, as evidenced by the proliferation of vegan restaurants in big cities like New York and LA continues. As the movement has shook off the hippie dippie stereotype, brands like by CHLOE have sprung up, offering a hip, social media-friendly aesthetic to "healthy" veganism, while still offering things like mac and cheese and pastries.
Serving inventive, affordable fare made from organic and locally-sourced fresh produce, Angelica was popular long before "farm-to-table" became a ubiquitous fad and certainly before veganism became mainstream.
"Over the years, Angelica’s has continued to be my soapbox to support the small family organic farmers in our region," McEachern continued in her goodbye statement. "We’ve stayed committed to our original goals, and our guests have come to trust us for the integrity and vitality of the ingredients used on our menu.”
The city's shiny fleet of newcomers owe a great debt to McEachern, who was doing vegan way before it was cool.