Your Recession Stories: The Clinton Restaurant


We’ve been bringing you the stories of the recession’s impact on small businesses on the Lower East Side. The other day, I visited Pedro Vargas, the owner of the Clinton Restaurant, a fixture at the corner of Clinton and Houston for many years. Recently, his family was forced to put it up for sale. Pedro has lived on the Lower East Side for 27 years and has owned his restaurant for twelve.

Pedro fought back tears as he told me he felt like selling was his only option after his profits dropped more than 50 percent in the last six months. Around the same time, the economy started tanking, and as we all know, food costs skyrocketed. He just didn’t think passing along those higher prices to his customers was something he could do. Pedro told me he’s dipped into his own pocket to keep the restaurant open, but if he does that much longer he’ll lose everything.  The Clinton Restaurant has a lot of loyal customers — some eat his delicious Dominican food every day. It’s a breath of fresh air on a stretch of Clinton Street that’s dotted with trendy new restaurants and shops.

The restaurant is truly a family business. They all help manage the place, cook and wait tables. Pedro says he will look for another location because running a restaurant is all he knows but he is not optimistic that the economy will get any better in the next couple of years.


Owner Pedro Vargas at the Clinton Restaurant.

You can call 212.982.3222 for information about the sale of Clinton Restaurant.

If you or someone you know has a recession story, and would like to share it, please email us at:

Posted by: Traven Rice

Jeffrey’s Money Saving Dinner Tips

Earlier this month, Essex Market butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter made headlines for his "recession dinner," treating dozens of struggling families to a steak dinner at two neighborhood restaurants. Just about everybody is trying to make their dollars stretch further these days. So we stopped by the market the other day to ask Jeffrey for some insider tips on ways to save money at the butcher's counter. Take a look.

Visit Jeffrey's web site here.

Your Recession Stories

On Friday, the government reported the unemployment rate had soared to a staggering 8.5%. We all see the ripple effects every day, even walking down the street. It's become routine to see empty storefronts, "going out of business" signs and stores advertising huge sales. Along Grand Street, most businesses seem to be hanging tough, but there's no doubt they're feeling the impact of the worst recession since the 1930's. From time to time, we'll check in with businesses in the neighborhood to see how they're doing. Last week, I spoke with James Iglesias, owner of Special Touch Valet Cleaners on Grand St., and the owners of Grand Spa.  Here's what they told me. 

Morning News Notes

Essex Street Market butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter tells The Daily News the recession has hit his customers hard. So along with a few other Market businesses he's providing 115 couples dinner for just $10. The meals will be served at the restaurants "Thor" and "Essex." It's first come, first serve to anyone with an unemployment check or documentation showing their home is in foreclosure.


Community Board 3 considers liquor licenses for more than two dozen bars and restaurants tonight. If you want to see the sparks fly, the meeting is being held at 200 East 5th Street (at Bowery), 630pm. See the agenda here.

The New York Times says Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will likely push for higher income taxes on the wealthy to help close New York state's huge budget shortfall.

It's "Laid off Mondays" at "The Delancey (bet. Clinton & Attorney)." A free tequila shot at midnight with proof of unemployment, 2 for 1 drinks all night.

It'll be mostly cloudy today with a high of 50, winds up to 11mph. Maybe some rain after 7pm.

More later.