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Ost Cafe Priced Out of East Village After Nearly a Decade, Management Says

By Allegra Hobbs | February 23, 2017 3:33pm | Updated on February 23, 2017 4:24pm
 Ost Cafe will close its doors after nearly a decade in the East Village.
Ost Cafe will close its doors after nearly a decade in the East Village.
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DNAinfo/Allegra Hobbs

EAST VILLAGE — Unable to pay rent, Ost Cafe on Sunday will close its doors for good at 441 E. 12th St. after nine years in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood staple will serve its last cup of coffee on Feb. 26 before shuttering at 5 p.m., according to a post on the cafe's Facebook page.

"Unfortunately, our little corner of 12th St and Ave. A has become too expensive to stay open any longer," the post reads.

"The East Village (the commoditized version of it that is controlled by the Real Estate industry) is moving on up, and they seem to have forgotten to set any place at the table for small businesses. The City of New York is complicit in this change, cheering from the sidelines for more, bigger, taller, and pocketing the tax revenue. Alas."

The shop's simple business model of coffee, pastries and wine was not sustainable, the post says, joking that "'Ost Café and 24-Hour Vape Shop Emporium' just doesn’t have the same ring to it."

The cafe's Lower East Side location at 511 Grand St. will stay open, according to the post.

A barista at the cafe said she was heartbroken to lose what she said was an inspiring work environment and will miss both the creative customers and colleagues that made the shop special.

"As soon as I stepped in here I was like, 'Yep this is what I was looking for,'" said Becca English, who had been working at Ost since September of last year.

"Getting to know the people who work here and all the regulars has been a total blessing in my life," she continued, noting she had been inspired to take up photography, calligraphy, and writing through conversations at the cafe.

Customers flocked to the shop's farewell Facebook post to grieve the loss as well — more than 100 had reacted to the post as of Thursday afternoon, while dozens had written their condolences. 

"A true staple in my heart and east village chapter of my life story... I have so much love for the people I've came into contact with because of Ost," wrote one patron.

The building's landlord said he was sorry to see the cafe go, noting it had been a good tenant for nearly a decade.

The management company had been unable to grant a request for a dramatic rent reduction to make ends meet as the cafe's 10-year lease came to an end, said the landlord, but had offered to keep rent the same for the first year of the space's new lease.

"They wanted to renew the lease and asked for a drastic reduction," said David Jacobson of East Village Property Management.

"We did not agree to a reduction. What we did agree to is to keep the rent at the same rate."

Jacobson said he had rented the space at a big discount during the business's first few years to help it get on its feet, then had started hiking the rent each year, but that there had been no dramatic increases within the last few years.

A cafe manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment.