Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old Devil Moon

On a tip, I reported earlier this week that Old Devil Moon on East 12th Street would be closing. Then I got another email from a reader who said, "Though I love your blog, I cannot believe that you devoted so little space to Old Devil Moon's closing. I know that I am not the only person that is completely devastated by this happening."

Fair enough. So I got over there last night for some meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The waitress told me it was "yes, probably, pretty definitely" the last night of business, so if you try to go, I suggest you call first. They are most likely shuttered by now.

Opened 15 years ago, the place is a perfect throwback to the early 1990s. It's got that whole flea market kitsch thing: the strings of holiday lights, the disco ball, the religious paintings next to vintage nudes, the animal heads gathering dust. This is what 1993 felt like around here. Still kind of 80s. People shopped at thrift stores and wore bowling shirts. All your furniture came from the trash. You found the absolute perfect chair on 24th and 3rd and carried it on your head all the way down to the East Village. (I still have that one.)

Anyway, Old Devil Moon. It was crowded last night. People stopped in to say goodbye and good luck. Jill was there with her garden folks. Here's the story from my reader:

"The info that I have about it is that even though the rent is decent, there just wasn't enough money coming in, and the owner just had twins, so she doesn't have the time and energy to continue to devote to a business that is not doing well. They have been trying to sell it for months, and even though almost everyone wanted to keep the space as it was, the new organic place that is getting it is going to gut the place and ruin a landmark in the neighborhood."

Another trophy on the wall for Newer York.

See more Old Devil Moon pics on my flickr


Anonymous said...

I don't mean to give you a hard time, but, let's juxtapose two lines from your post.

"Opened **15 years ago**, the place is a perfect throwback to the early 1990s"

"ruin a landmark in the neighborhood"

It's hard for me to consider something a "landmark throwback" that's under 20 years old. And no one, apparently, thought enough of the landmark to buy and preserve it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sorry to see this place go. Even when it first opened, ODM seemed to have personality...there was a warmth to the space. Everything now is too sterile.

Anonymous said...

"ruin a landmark in the neighborhood" was a quote from a reader, not the author, you fucking illiterate dingbat.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I'm certainly said to see any neighborhood buisness -- even if it's relatively new -- shut.

But I'm starting to wonder how much all of this, "Things aren't like they used to be," is just that -- waxing about your old college days, or your old post-college days or your old should-have-been-in-college days.

I mourn -- stay up at nights and sometimes literally cry -- for some of the more serious, soulless changes in our neighborhood. Changes that have no respect for the people who have come before, or even for the people who are here right now. (Astor Place comes to mind.)

But, as we all know, change *does* happen. Of course, this is the canard that lots of heartless developers use: Everything changes.

What's the balance between preserving what's important and changing with the times? I sure don't know the answer. I wish we'd have that conversation more often in this city, though.

christopherlee said...

I will be 47 yrs old on the 26th of Jan. Born in Harlem 1962. The people that REALLY lived THAT old New York would be greatful to see once uninhabitable neighborhoods become liveable again. I know what you mean by mourning the loss of some truly marvelous small businesses and the homogenization of city life, but something's lost and something's gained. Maybe the faltering real estate market will get banks out of the predatory real estate financing racket and small business won't have to pay such inflated fees and renters won't have to live 4 and 5 to a flat.

Anonymous said...

I've lived at 12th between 1st and A for 28 years and didn't start going to ODM till several years ago. You know how that happens? The decor had such humor, the staff was always so nice and the pulled pork and meatloaf was fantastic. Not to mention the corn bread and sticky buns. It may not be a landmark per se but the relaxed take it easy atmosphere and affordable prices are something that is lacking in many of the new restaurants. Great breakfasts too. I'll miss that.

Anonymous said...

15 years is not a short time for a business to be open. Anyone who has tried to open or run a business in New York, let alone this neighborhood, is lucky to make it 5 years. After 10 you have outlived almost all the other business around you. By 15 years you are the old timer. Being that I have moved into the neighborhood officially about 14 years ago, I can say with some certainty that there is not another business on 12th Street that has lasted 15 years, except maybe the deli on Avenue B and 12th Street. Back in the day (15 years ago) there were 2 delis across the street from Old Devil Moon, and they were both drug fronts. On Avenue A and 12th Street, 2 more drug delis (that was where The Cock and The Raven were). We had our own private drug dealer that stood on the block as well. Businesses were not exactly common, and didn't last long once opened. Old Devil Moon came in and served great food at decent prices and hired cool and slightly unprofessional, but wonderful waitresses. They had good dinner deals, and their brunch was amazing. You could always make a meal last for 2 meals, though you rarely wanted to stop eating until every bite was gone. There haven't been many restaurants in the last 15 years where that has been the case. It doesn't matter that we all know things change, neighborhoods change, restaurants close, and people die, it's just it will not stop those of us that care from mourning the loss.

Jill said...

Just before it was Old Devil Moon it was a restaurant that didn't serve food, the drug kingpin on the block (that's what the cops said every time I called to complain about their very loud and horrible live music at 3am. explaining that they have to make 3 buys before they can shut them down). There was even a secret block association meeting at the church (gone) with the police to explain what they were doing to shut them down. So when ODM opened, it was kind of a big deal for the block, the first legitimate business on the street, followed shortly thereafter by the tattoo guy (gone), the catering people (both gone) and the corner bars that were not drug dealers, stolen merchandise sellers or number runners (both gone).

Dennis D said...

original owners of Old devil Moon. It started as Steve and Tami and my brother and I. We opened on a shoestring with Steve going above and beyond the call of duty to open the place. It took us six months to open. We really started doing well in 1997 or so and did well until just before 9/11/01.
The block was wary of us until we finally showed we were a legit business. I want to thank all the people that supported us over the years.
Dennis D

Jeremiah Moss said...

dennis, thanks for writing in. as i'm sure you know, your place will be very missed. what's going to happen to all the fantastic artifacts inside? do you think you'll bring them to a new location?

Miss Tami said...

As the one who had to finally decide to close Old Devil Moon, reading all these nostalgic remembrances is sweet and sad. My thanks to everyone who loved it and ate there often. There just weren't enough of you anymore!

It wasn't a hard ass landlord who squeezed us out(they've been GREAT to us), it was just too hard to manage by myself after the partnership split up and I was too nostalgic to see that it was probably time to say good-bye a while ago.
But it was a place a lot of people loved, and I'm very proud of that. My older kids grew up there and at the park down the street, and the neighborhood was their second home.
There are many great memories there, Harry and the Wahoo band that played hundreds of Thursday nights, firework collaborations in the middle of the street with Jonathan from Clockworks (now the empty Jub's), and lots of good personal times for our family. Now with two new little babies, I had to say enough is enough.
THE NEW OWNERS are a very wonderful group of guys who have roots in the east village as well. They were customers themselves and felt sad to see it close. They have a good strong concept and will be great neighbors, so give them a chance.

Masturbakers will be on hiatus till we can find a new home, so email me at if you've got any leads, maybe a bar that has
has a unused kitchen.
If there’s anything from the walls you're interested in, drop me a note as well.
There are too many people to thank, but a big hug to Sara who was running it while I was birthin' and taking care of the little ones.
Thanks, truly, for everything...
Miss Tami

Anonymous said...

ShatteredMonocle, FTA didn't say it was a quote from the author. The fucking illiterate dingbat seems to be you.

Jeremiah Moss said...

tami, thanks for writing in and best of luck with everything. i hope masturbakers (and all those animal heads) find a good and loving home.

Anonymous said...

Old Devil Moon had a vibe all it's own and those of us who worked there truly were a family.I'll never forget pulling all nighters making pies until 6am and then waking home to Chelsea with no one out but the street vendors and still drunk partiers on their way home. And my old band Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops pretty much got our start with an insanely crowded and rowdy monthly residency on that tiny stage. Those poor waitresses! I could go on and on but *sniff* I got somethin' in my eye... God Bless Ye Old Devil Moon!!!!!!!!!!!

Unknown said...

The end of a great era. I met Miss Tami back in the 80's. I was dining at Exterminator Chili and had the most AMAZING slice of Sig (peanut butter pie) For me I had to meet the baker. It was Tami and they kept this incredible BEAUTY in the basement slaving out pies all day. We became dear friends and it was all because of that dam tasty pie. Many good times shared. And than when Tami and Steve launched Old Devil Moon we had moved to the East Village and so did our hungry tummy's Many a good time there too.
We brought all our friends to partake in the meals but for me it was all about the deserts and the people. Tami just had a knack for surrounding herself and the business with special folks. Thank you for many good times. A new Chapter awaits.

karen kuehn
photographer NM

sTeveNo said...

January 7, 1994 - January 15, 2009.
No more cornbread, country ham, grits, biscuits and sticky buns. No more burning the straw man with Jonathon and Clockworks Crew at midnight to start the New Year. No more swillin PBRs with Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops. No more fireworks in the street. No more Luddite Lounge with Todd. No more mountain music with Harry. No more dupes lined up for food for hangover cures. No more Mistress Formica and her brunch crew. No more crazy collection of american artifacts. No more Old Devil Music on mixed cassettes. No more chatting with all those great East Village customers.

Okay - I haven't been there for years now. I worked every shift we first opened, cooking, building when we were closed, delivering pies before work, sleeping on the banquettes at night to get a head start on brunch in the morning. Made lots of mistakes, but got tons of beautiful friends.
Thank you to all who helped us build it, all the sassy, super wait-people and wonderful cooks, bakers, and kitchen people who I love so and loved working with. Everyone who came in and ate our down home food brought us stuff for the wall - stuffed and snarling bears, longhorn skulls, and vegan decor as well. Thanks to our inspirations - Great Jones, Loveless, Roadfood Sterns, Howard Finster, the Hound - to name a few. Thank you to The Driscolls, who made it possible, (and for their amazing stories.) Thanks to Willow and Hawk for running around and growing up at the Moon. Thank you to Tami, who started it with us, baked the famous pies, cobblers, and cakes, and kept it going after I left.
Hope you enjoyed ODM! For stuff I’ve forgotten, let us know at Old Devilmoon on facebook, and, I’ll see you down the road…
Love you,

Anonymous said...

I could always find something to complain about at ODM, and yet there is no question in my mind it was by very, very far my all-time favorite restaurant. I think I'm choking up as I type this; that's how sad I am to learn that it's gone.

I started going there for frequent hungover weekend brunches with my girlfriend (now wife) in 2001 and fell in love with the place. We kept going for years, and our first kid, now 22 months old, has been there several times.

To the waitress whom we got to know, the three of us say hi and we'll miss you; we hope to see you again sometime. Good luck to you and all the employees. A fond, fond farewell.

In the mid 90s I didn't yet live in NYC but visited often and those were the days when I realized that the East Village was my favorite neighborhood. I was very lucky to eventually live there. As sad as I am that ODM is gone, I am glad to be reading here the actual words of actual people who helped made the neighborhood what it was. Hi, guys, and thanks for helping to define a beautiful, dear neighborhood.

Jason Ledyard said...

Oh, I am so glad it is gone. =D
My ex tortured me by forcing me to go there often. I really have bad memories about the place.