Recently, DNA reported that Spanish restaurant El Faro has been closed indefinitely, "as its owner tries to raise more than $80,000 to pay city fines and other expenses." The city found mice in the 85-year-old place--they also want El Faro to be renovated to meet the city's standards.
El Faro opened in 1927, when the Village was full of Spanish sailors, and has been surviving at the edge of the Meatpacking District ever since. It's got that Last Mohican look about it. I've gone in a few times, worried that it would not last much longer, that it would soon be targeted in the Bloombergian cross-hairs. A newcomer, I was always welcomed and felt as if I'd stumbled into an older New York, where everyone knows everyone, and they all have a dusty, slightly patrician air.
Nothing this warm and welcoming could be allowed to remain in the new New York. Not here on this plot of prime real estate.
El Faro is proud of the fact that it has never changed. On the website, they say that many customers "have grown up inside El Faro and it is a part of their family, a place that is as comfortable to them as the house they grew up in. El Faro is the same as it was when their parents came here on their first date, 30 years ago! They can sit in the same booth, eat out of the same pot, the food is the same as when they first came!"
As El Faro's owner told DNA, "A lot of people are distraught. We have people who have come here for four generations with their families. I am receiving a great amount of kindness from my customers... It's like an extension of their house," he said. "We delivered food to some of our elderly [customers] and even brought them milk and bread if they couldn't leave home. It was more than a restaurant."
But won't it look great as a Marc Jacobs store?
What can we do to make sure that never happens, and that El Faro stays open and unchanged for generations to come?