While their real website says nothing about the situation, there are regular updates happening on the Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen Facebook page. Sounds like the last day to shop there is Monday, December 24, and “if you don’t have Christmas plans early in the day please consider coming by to help Peter get ready for the auction.”
According to statement sent to us by Fran Luck, a friend of the restaurant,
[On December 15th] in court, Peter Sylvestri owner/creator of the Whole Earth Vegan Bakery on St. Marks Place, was forced to sign a stipulation that he would vacate the premises of the Whole Earth Vegan Bakery by January 15. His lawyer advised him that signing would buy him a month, whereas if he went to trial, he would probably wind up evicted within a week from the old-style Lower East Side store where he’d baked his wonderful original vegan concoctions for close to 30 years,
Peter had fallen into arrears totaling over $40,000, representing 8 months of his outrageous $5,300 rent. Peter told me tonight that when the rent had been $3,000. he could just about eke by. But this wasn’t high enough for Ronald S. Friedman, who owns many properties in the gentrifying “East Village” and the rapacious landlord tried to squeeze another $2,000. a month out of Peter.
For a prime spot on Saint Mark’s Place near Tompkins Square Park, $5,300 a month doesn’t sound all that crazy these days. It’s too bad Whole Earth has to close completely, rather than moving to a neighborhood more like what the East Village was 30 years ago
Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen always felt like a throwback to an earlier era, even when I started going there in the mid-1990s. They didn’t grow and change much with their neighborhood, or with advances in vegan baking. This kept some customers very happy, but left a lot of others mystified (a living museum of 1970s health-food cookery just isn’t going to please everyone). Personally, while I’ve never been too impressed with Whole Earth’s sweets, I’ve always really enjoyed their savory food. And they did rearrange the interior a few times, making it into a much more welcoming space. If you haven’t been there in a few years (you know who you are), drop by this weekend.
I’ve always quite liked this illustration of Whole Earth by “Mihoko who is from Japan”. I hope no one minds me sharing it here. Goodbye Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen, and thanks for blazing a path for all the vegan bakeries and kitchens that have followed in your footsteps!