PARK SLOPE — Longtime neighborhood restaurant Applewood closed Tuesday with little warning, stunning loyal customers with the surprise news.
Owners David and Laura Shea announced on Twitter and Facebook that the farm-to-table restaurant had closed after nearly 12 years in business at 501 11th St., near Seventh Avenue.
“We had a great run, but it is time for the next chapter in our story. Thank you for all of your love and support over the years," the Sheas wrote. The same message was posted in the restaurant's window and greeted callers to the restaurant's phone number.
The Sheas moved from Park Slope to Columbia County three-and-a-half years ago and Laura Shea said Wednesday that running the restaurant from afar, with a three-hour drive each way, was getting to be too much.
"We've been managing it remotely all that time, which has proven to be a herculean task," Laura Shea told DNAinfo. "We couldn’t do it the way we wanted to do it from that distance. … We just wanted to get out while the getting was good."
The Sheas, who have two children, run a two-acre organic farm upstate with pigs, chickens, goats and bees. Laura Shea also runs a cheese shop called Bimi's in Chatham. David Shea hasn't decided what he'll do next, Laura said, but the couple plan to keep their customers informed through their email list.
Laura Shea said she and her husband had been touched by the "avalanche" of well wishes that have poured in since they announced the closure. Many of the fond farewells were from people who marked milestones such as weddings or engagements at Applewood.
“We really made something that touched people and meant something, and that’s what we were trying to do,” Laura Shea said. “I don’t think we will get to be part of people’s lives in quite the same way again and I will miss that.”
With a farm fresh menu that changed with the seasons, Applewood opened in September 2004 and was an early adherent to the slow food movement. New York magazine named it the city's best mom-and-pop restaurant in 2005, and the New York Times wrote that year that Applewood "has a genuineness and grace that many others don't."
Customers flooded Applewood's Facebook page Tuesday with heartfelt goodbyes.
“I had to make sure my wife was sitting down before I broke the news to her,” wrote one ardent fan. “[P]lease let us know if you ever start a new restaurant (we'd drive to visit, far if necessary)…”
Laura Shea said Wednesday that she wasn't sure whether Applewood competed for customers with those newer eateries, but it may have been harder to stand out as more restaurants open in the borough.
“There’s room for everybody, but at the same time I started to feel like the Brooklyn restaurant scene was getting pretty diluted,” Shea said. “There were just too many choices.”