Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief that Elmo was in fact just closed for renovations comes word that another longtime "gay" eatery in Chelsea, East of Eighth, has abruptly closed, with its owner citing Republican talking points as the reason.
In an email, restaurant owner David Feldman said East of Eighth "could not keep up wit [sic] the higher wages and overtime regulations."
"The staff was unwilling to cooperate with the recently enforced regulations," he wrote. "Business was great but couldn't withstand the challenges of operating a single unit restaurant." Employees speculated that Feldman was planning to file for bankruptcy, but he didn't address that in his email.
East of Eighth was known for the photos of drag performers that lined its walls, along with drawings of patrons and employees, Warren said. Several works of art created by drag performer Hedda Lettuce were on permanent display at the restaurant, according to her website. An employee of Feldman's catering company (Benjamin Catering), which he simultaneously shut down, said the restaurant had been around for more than two decades. “It’s very unfortunate — it’s definitely going to be missed,” she said. “It was a neighborhood gem, essentially.”
East of Eighth was never my go-to restaurant. But I do have fond memories of having dinner there with my friends Dave and (the late) Larry in the late '90s, and also of getting drunk off my ass with some straight guys from work in the swelegant groundfloor bar that led to everyone going to Starlight lounge in the East Village! How many more nails before the gayborhood's coffin is six feet under and forgotten?