Another one bites the hardshell tortilla dust. East Village favorite San Loco is set to close tonight. After 3 a.m., there will only be one location left in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side.
“Mom and pop stores are just closing left and right,” said Jill Hing, owner of San Loco. “It’s heartbreaking because that’s the character of neighborhoods like this.”
San Loco has been serving guaco locos and margaritas in the East Village since 1986. Back then, the rent was only $1,200, but it has increased lease after lease. The latest renewal would’ve brought a 30 percent increase in rent, Hing said.
In 2018 you can expect to see a Target open on 14th Street; many aren’t happy about the corporatization of the neighborhood and the seemingly inevitable rent hikes. This month Community Board 3 held a public forum to listen to arguments for or against a special district in the East Village, which would attempt to protect small businesses and the character of the neighborhood.
“It’s all stuff that other cities do to protect the character of their city,” Hing said. “And New York doesn’t do that at all. So they need to do something to control commercial rent.”
San Loco took to Instagram yesterday to announce its decision to close, which spurred a few comments from their followers. One woman said “rent increases are killing the city. I’m heartbroken.” Another wrote, “My husband and I have been going there since 1989 when it was across the street. And for the past 28 years we have gone back too many times to count and live to bring our four kids with us!! This saddens me deeply, but am grateful for all the great memories you have given us!!!”
Hing was just as disappointed when talking about the decision to close. “It kills me,” she said. “And everybody hates it. But it’s like no matter how busy you are, it’s just not enough to keep up with the inflation.”
She said she wants to open another San Loco within a couple blocks of the Second Avenue one, but isn’t sure there are affordable spaces in the area anymore. “Our biggest hope is that our customers will venture out of their normal routine and come and visit us at the other locations,” Hing said.