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Roots & Vines Owner Talks About Why She Closed Cafe

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Roots & Vines, 409 Grand Street.

Here’s a follow-up on a story we brought you on Monday — the closure of Grand Street cafe Roots & Vines. Yesterday, an auction was held inside the coffee shop and restaurant. Everything from ovens to espresso machines to bar stools was for sale.  This morning, we spoke with Natalie Krodel, who opened the business with Nguyen Huynh, almost nine years ago.

Why did Roots & Vines close? The simply answer seems to be the cafe wasn’t making it. The ongoing recession might have been part of the problem. But Krodel said it’s been especially tough in the last year or two as competitors have opened up in the immediate vicinity. She mentioned Pushcart Coffee on East Broadway and Cafe Grumpy on Essex Street.  There are, of course, many other “artisanal” coffee newcomers within a short walking distance.

Krodel said she’s sad about closing the cafe.  She loves Grand Street and will miss her customers, many of whom treated Roots & Vines a bit like a community living room.  Krodel said a passion for specialty coffee led her to open the restaurant. Back then, she was a pioneer below Delancey Street. Now there seems to be gourmet coffee on nearly every block.  Krodel said the new places are worthy replacements.

Last year, she tried to sell the business but there was little interest.  Krodel added that she’s heard some interesting ideas from people who might want to take the space, but nothing is firm. As for her own future, Krodel has returned to practicing law, a career she suspended after opening the coffee shop.

The space, at 409 Grand Street, is owned by the Seward Park Cooperative. We’ve inquired with co-op management about the fate of the storefront but have not heard back yet. Roots & Vines had a beer and wine license but it lapsed in February, according to state records.

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. That’s too bad. When I went back to the LES to visit family the last few summers, Roots and Vines was a surprising change. Good coffee, good food, good beer. Wishing them all the best. Thanks for good coffee when this transplant to the Pacific NW needed a latte! 

  2. Pushcart coofee has become the place to go recently and while Im sorry to see Roots and vines go I’m happy we still have Pushcart coffe

  3. That really is too bad. :/  I’m in Tokyo now for a while, but I miss the old neighborhood a great deal, and R&V lifted me up.

  4. You do realize that a cafe the size of R&V cannot survive on customers who purchase of coffee and sit outside? 

    Pushcart’s space is small; but it’s not a cheap rent. Places like that are not services like that; and it’s no wonder lots of places go small, and don’t last.

    Everyone nowadays wants to sit around with their laptops, sucking down two or three coffees and the wireless access, for hours.

    They have a coffee cart bike; but it’s not like they can park it anywhere and serve from it.

    Back in the day, at Limbo in the EV for instance, we actually used to talk to one another and eat at night. I don’t envy anyone trying to provide a social service (the neighborhood coffee shop) like that in these days; it’ s probably unbelievably hard.

  5. Maybe there’s a newfangled coffee shop “on every block” below Delancey but so little of that kind of commerce reaches Grand, especially the eastern part. LES Sushi, which served AMAZING sushi at 517 Grand (owned by the people who run the solid but not amazing Wa Lung further down the street), closed recently, too, and when the East River Co-op Board was trying to find a more upscale tenant for the space now occupied for the overpriced and not very quality Fine Fare, no one would bite. We have Paul Taylor. Big whoop. I’d take a coffee instead.

  6. I find nothing wrong with Fine Fare.As a lifelong resident I feel more comfortable shopping at an established neighborhood super market than at a yuppie market such as Whole Foods!

  7. Agreed – Fine Fare is awful. Cannot tell you how many dairy products I have purchased but had to return due to them having gone “over” prior to their expiry date.  And management could not care less even when items remain stocked in the dairy section with expired dates and it is pointed out to them.
    Also the produce is sub=par.  The store on Clinton St has a staff member whose job it is all day to trim off the rotting edges of veggies and repackage in plastic.
    Seriously.  Just stop by their any weekday prior to 5pm.

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