Angelica Kitchen has been–for many generations of the young, hungry, and weird–a gateway to New York City. Today, the pioneering East Village vegan eatery closes, after forty years of operation.
Rising rent and a changing neighborhood led to its demise. If you were a young punk, art student, political activist, ex-Hare Krishna, confused hippie, graffiti artist, ballet dancer, magician, actor, or none or all of the above, you could move to the city and get a job at A.K. An apartment, love life, heartbreak, hangovers, and all the rest of life’s features would follow.
Times, they are a-changing.
When I first moved to NYC in 1999 as a vegan art student, I was excited to explore the city and to also find my go-to vegan places. The typical student diet of ramen noodles and random side orders from fast food spots were the affordable usual, but when it was time to splurge…I found myself at the now defunct Kate’s Joint on Avenue B and the (now closing) legendary Angelica Kitchen.
Some people have an emotional connection to food, but I cannot say that I identify with that statement. I rather, find indirect emotional connection to food via the memories I shared over the meals and the places they were experienced. Whether dining with friends, or having a solo dinner…Angelica Kitchen has long been a home for me for over 18 years. Their closing deeply saddens me, but as a downtown New Yorker–it’s something I’ve come to accept. While, as a typical Taurus I’d prefer nothing to ever change…as an evolving adult, I have come to accept that change is not good nor bad…but, inevitable.
Although it pains me to part with my weekly tradition–literally I eat there once a week–I am thankful for the fond memories Angelica Kitchen has given me. Today I am saying farewell to this beautiful piece of downtown NYC history, vegan culture and ultimately a chapter in my life.