Panel Talk August 5: Can Beloved NYC Restaurants Be Saved?

The dearly departed Pink Pony on Ludlow Street. Photo by Robert K. Chin.

The dearly departed Pink Pony on Ludlow Street. Photo by Robert K. Chin.

Here’s an event from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation that isn’t on the Lower East Side — but it concerns an issue very much relevant to this neighborhood and to New York City as a whole. See below:

It could be Lucky Cheng’s or University Diner that you miss, Havana Chelsea or Manatus Restaurant. Some people are already mourning El Quijote or Union Square Café. New Yorkers are in a tizzy over their favorite spots disappearing fast. The question is, what to do about it? A panel of experts will investigate just that at a free discussion next week. Inspired by a Historic Restaurant Preservation Plan recently proposed by Eater.com restaurant critic Robert Sietsema, the inquiry will include Sietsema as well as former New York Times restaurant critic and longtime Villager Mimi Sheraton, who is skeptical of such a plan; Stacey Sutton, a Columbia University assistant professor of urban planning who specializes in community retail dynamics; and Robert Perl, the president of Tower Brokerage, which specializes in the sale and rental of commercial and residential property in the East Village. Karen Loew, GVSHP’s director of East Village and special projects, will moderate. Around the world, people are taking action to extend the lives of businesses they love – in effect aiming to preserve the “uses” inside buildings alongside preservationists’ usual target of the structures themselves. In England, traditional pubs can be deemed assets of community value, allowing community groups time to raise money to buy and preserve them, in order to compete with other buyers who may change the use. In San Francisco, the preservation group SF Heritage promotes Legacy Bars and Restaurants as a way to drive customers to qualifying businesses. Would it make sense for our capital of innovation, dining and independent business to be the next to create a path for restaurant preservation? We’ll look at all sides of the issue, from rent hikes to owner retirement, to explore what can be done to save our favorite cafes and bars: our hangouts, our clubhouses, the places that feed our souls as well as our stomachs. Come join the discussion that could be the beginning of something: fewer endings.

The discussion will take place Tuesday, August 5, 6:30-8 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South.
It’s free but reservations are required: rsvp@gvshp.org