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Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen, One of NYC’s Oldest Vegan Restaurants, Is Closing Next Week

Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen is closing next week. For real this time*. So hurry over to 130 Saint Marks Place (between 1st Ave and Anvenue A) to get your old-school vegan goodies!

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!

* There’s been a whole lot of wolf calling over the years (we wrote at least six now-it’s-closing-no-it-isn’t posts about it six years ago), but it sounds like this time it’s definitely the end.

6 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Me

    on #

    Sad!

    I think Angelica Kitchen is the oldest, though? Me reads it was opened in 1976

  2. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Thanks, Me, you’re totally right! I screwed up. I’ve corrected the headline accordingly.

  3. Comment by

    Cathy

    on #

    SAY IT AIN’T SO!

    Seeing as how my work is on 14th St. I’m definitely going to get my butt over there when I’m off!

  4. Comment by

    Me2

    on #

    i was vegan for 14 years in Manhattan and went to this bakery exactly twice. it was bad both times. the popularity of vegan is soaring and this place, which had an enormous lead on just about every other vegan business in NY, is closing after stiffing their landlord for 40K and their suppliers for who knows how much more….. that should tell you something.

  5. Comment by

    Laura

    on #

    Yes I’ve been vegan for 13 yrs and have only gone to this place a handful of times. The last time was a while ago. I don’t remember it being good either.

  6. Comment by

    Pete

    on #

    I can not believe that someone other than a greedy, anti-social landlord could possibly believe that a $5,300 monthly rent could be anything close to “reasonable.” The Whole Earth Bakery will be missed by many. I am astounded by the snobbery in this article and some of the comments. The bakery provided a warm atmosphere where you would often run into friends, or maybe meet new ones. We have so few places left on the Lower East Side, and it is sad to lose yet another one, and one where the food is wonderful. And the bakery did not “stiff” anyone ? Peter worked seven days a week to keep the place going and if he had a reasonable rent he’d have had no problem. I am also sad to see that there are so many holier-than-thou vegan snobs out there ? get some perspective, folks.

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