From out of the cold yesterday, I stepped into the warm and cozy hole-in-the-wall of the Sucelt Coffee Shop for a lunch of beans and rice topped with soft plantains, and heard the sad news that, after 31 years on 14th St and 7th Ave, the shop is closing.
Most of the customers in the crowded shop are Spanish-speaking regulars, but there was one new guy at the counter. Like all newcomers, he was warmly welcomed and embraced by the maternal, gemutlich atmosphere created by the waitstaff, a trio of smiling ladies who are easy to laugh and who care for you like kindly, brisk, efficient aunties.
A newcomer laughs with the ladies of Sucelt
This newcomer was so excited by his home-cooked meal, he exclaimed to the ladies as he was rising to go, "I'm glad I found this place--I'm going to come back all the time!"
"You better come back soon," said one of the ladies, "We're closing forever December 24."
"Oh no," said the man, "What happened?"
"We lost our lease. On the day Jesus was born, that's the day we go."
"That's just terrible," the man said, shaking his head, "It's happening all over my neighborhood, too." Then he wished the ladies good luck, put on his hat, and walked back out into the cold, abandoned once again by his city.
Click image below to read New Yorker review 6/12/00: