Yesterday Stage Restaurant, which shuttered nearly a year ago after its landlord accused it of an illegal gas hookup, announced that it was closing for good after 35 years in the East Village: “Over the past year, we have resolved our dispute with the landlord and Icon Realty Management,” owner Roman Diakun wrote on Facebook. “Stage Restaurant never engaged in any wrongdoing; however, after our prolonged closure and because of the cost to make the repairs and expenses of reopening, we are sad to say that the Stage cannot reopen.” Now, “gentrification in progress” tape has gone up on the diner’s storefront near the corner St. Marks and Second Avenue.
Business owners affected by the Second Avenue gas explosion met Thursday morning, some of them for the first time, at Cafe Mocha, across the street from where three buildings collapsed two weeks ago today. There was talk of struggles with insurance companies, frustration over not being able to reopen, and despair over lost businesses, but many said they feel lucky things didn’t turn out worse.
This morning, outside of a shuttered B&H Dairy, owner Fawzy Abdelwahad stood waiting for Con Ed inspectors who were due to check his gas line. Since an explosion leveled three buildings a few doors down from him last week, he’s been working with various city agencies and his insurance company to reopen his 73-year-old diner and keep his business from going under.
Abdelwahad, who has owned B&H for 13 years, said that with taxes, rent, insurance, labor, food, and supplies, his expenses run between $30,000 to $40,000 a month. He has no savings and no personal assets to leverage in order to support the business. “If it’s going to be like this for a while,” he said, waving at the darkened diner, “we could be out of business like, 1-2-3.” He estimated that it would not be able to survive more than a three-week closure. “I love it, of course,” he said of the greasy spoon. “It’s like my son, one of my children, my family.”