Thursday, September 18, 2014

La Taza de Oro

Earlier this week, I was in Chelsea, wondering where the hell to have lunch. There aren't a lot of tolerable places left. Then I thought of La Taza de Oro. Perfect. But when I got there, I found the place shuttered and a sign on the door thanking customers for their patronage.

I panicked--but the sign also said they're not closed for good, just making a bunch of changes to satisfy the Health Department. Presumably, they will reopen and all will be well. But I've been worried about the place.



Its neighbor, Mezza Luna Pizza, recently shuttered. The building to the north of that has been demolished for new development. Two doors down from La Taza de Oro, a building collapsed during Hurricane Sandy and has been boarded up since. And then there's a check-cashing place--which simply isn't going to last in the new Chelsea.

These are signs that make me nervous.



Another thing that makes me nervous is Google's presence across the avenue and all the recent shutterings that have been throttling this stretch of 8th Avenue.

Call me paranoid, but it seems like the Health Department always shows up at times like this.



La Taza de Oro is an old-school survivor. The service is friendly and warm. The food is good and hearty, plentiful and affordable. If New York City had a protection plan for preserving its cultural assets, La Taza de Oro would be on the list.

But we don't have a protection plan. We have nothing. We are defenseless, at the mercy of a new mayor who has done nothing to save the city from being choked in chains and upscale development.

So let's hope La Taza de Oro reopens soon, that the Health Department gets off their back, and that it somehow continues to survive in this increasingly hostile city. Without it, and places like it, where are we going to eat lunch?

20 comments:

marjorie said...

Lovely post. I lived in Chelsea when I got my very first apt in 1990, and they were indeed lovely. And they had great coffee before it was easy to find great coffee in NYC. I haven't been there in a long time. Please keep us posted.

Gojira said...

Holy crap, my heart stopped when I read the headline. It will shatter if they don't re-open.

Mitch said...

I too have been wondering. I work near there and noticed it was closed on a Friday night, when it shouldn't have been. There was no sign then - glad to hear they're planning to reopen.

Anonymous said...

Here's some hope. I heard that the owner of the restaurant owns the building.

JAZ said...

It's inconceivable that this city doesn't have anything set up to protect viable independent businesses who are profitable enough to make reasonable rent from being run over by the whims of real estate wolves & the landlords that they seduce.

Anonymous said...

The family that owns the restaurant also owns the building that is above it. So there is a chance in the future that they would sell if a developer offered them a huge figure. Just like Roio’s pizza on 11th and 6th ave. I sadly do feel that it's only a matter of time.

Joe said...

I really wonder when Google, which has brought nothing to the neighborhood other than a lot of people wearing Google t-shirts, will start to invest in their home. How about instead of providing food to their employees in-house, they provide vouchers to be used at local businesses? The (all white) staff might enjoy leaving their gulag, and even learn a little about what their "game changing" business has actually changed. On top of that, those who actually live there might have a place for a meal that isn't segregated from the actual resident population...

Anonymous said...

What about the block above? When will it go?

Anonymous said...

Mercifully, they're open again. Had dinner - chicken and rice and great coffee - there last week.

Anonymous said...

@Joe

You clearly don't know much about Google workforce. 30% of their workforce has Asian backgrounds (http://www.google.com/diversity/at-google.html#tab=overall).

So not only are they not "all-white", but one of the largest employers of minorities on high-paying industries, much more than any major financial, media, medical national group.

I'm not Asian myself, but I get angry when people discount Asians as a sort of "minority that doesn't count" when diversity is being discussed or implied. Be it regarding tech employment, Stuyvesant HS student body etc.

Google employers are not prevented from leaving office. This is ludicrous.

Joe said...

@ Anonymous - It's not that I believe that Google is all white - it's that their office here in Chelsea is pretty much all white. My bet is that there are far, far fewer than 30% Asian employees in this office, although - admittedly - my evidence is anecdotal.

As for Google employees being prevented from leaving office, I assume that you will agree that the point of serving them food in house, as far away from the front door of the building as possible, is to get them to stay in. They may not be chained to their desks, but the expectations - and effects - are pretty clear.

Jeremiah Moss said...

“I wasn’t happy when Google bought the building,” said Montalvo. “111 Eighth Avenue…that building was full of different companies, and they were our customers. Google employees are not our customers because Google takes care of its own people.”

http://themidtowngazette.com/2012/12/puerto-rican-restaurant-tradition-in-the-midst-of-change/

11:28 a.m. said...

But Asians are white http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/05/29/how-the-asians-became-white/

Anonymous said...

I live across the street from that block and have always loved that row of century-old buildings. But, sadly, I'm afraid I'll wake up any day now to find it transformed into a giant luxury condo that looks like a shopping mall standing on its side. So sad. I cringe when I read the web site, NY YIMBY, which seems to be on a campaign to rezone all of West 14th Street so developers can knock down all remaining tenements and replace them with condos. According to YIMBY, the neighborhood, with its ACE-123 subways, can handle thousands of more residents. Perhaps, but why would you want to do that? So a small handful of developers can get rich? What about the people who live here? It's crowded enough already with High-Line & Apple Store tourists! Why destroy the few old buildings that give the neighborhood its charm??? Can't they see that too much development makes a charming, desirable neighborhood LESS charming and desirable? Sooner or late, they're bound to reach the tipping point.

Anonymous said...

This report brought a pit to my stomach. I lived around the corner on 15th Street from 1992-2004 and Taza was my go-to "I'm not in the mood to cook dinner" place (along with the long gone Sucelt). Yes, neighborhoods evolve and new places move in, but it kills me when the best of the older places get pushed out. Sure, Taza may reopen, but for how much longer will it last? I'm in Brooklyn now -- not hip Brooklyn but deep, central Brooklyn -- and it's even happening here. Developers are everywhere, unfortunately.

laura r. said...

11am sept 19th: "but asians are white" (??) asian is a race. caucasion is a race. but why is race so popular these days. the western world is race- a- phobic. NY should refrain from those kind of conversations, we are past that. otherwize, i am happy to hear the restaurant is open. the dissapointing part is that i cant see the menu in the photo! looks delicious & low priced. anon 4:34 pm: there is more $$$ in selling 300 condos than maybe selling 25. as charming as the tenements are, the reale estate moguls are out the make as much as they can. they dont live nearby, care less about crowding, views, quality of life. they either live abroad, or somehwhere in conn.

historyglass said...

It's open again now.

Anonymous said...

It's reopened, but just for a change of pace sometimes, you can also go down to Roy's Pizza and Flight 151 between 17th and 18th.... I used to work at Roy's a few years back, chill people to work for and diverse crowd of customers throughout the day/night. Some of the few decent happy hour prices left in the city, and I still go back for the pizza (I miss being able to take home multiple pies at the end of the night!)

My favorite part was being allowed to tell off those obnoxious yuppie customers whining for gluten-free "pizza" or complaining that we weren't some Artichoke-style bull. Also, the fact that Roy kept/keeps the ice cream machine going year-round (which is actually a really sweet gesture mostly meant for the neighboring St. Francis residents, some of my favorite customers who'd come in daily for their soft-serve fix.)

Anonymous said...

I go here at least once a week and have been going siince the 90's.there used to be some affordable lunch spots in west village ... this one of the Last.

Anonymous said...

They were closed this evening... sure hope it's not forever.