Over the summer I talked about the distressed mood of soul food restaurateurs in the Harlem area. Trends to healthier diets and New York City’s ever evolving landscape had taken its toll on these classic eateries, leaving their proprietors worrisome of the future.
Well, it appears the future is here, and several soul food eateries are not.
M&G Diner, opened in 1968 and famed for its fried chicken — and a neon sign that reads, “Old Fashion’ But Good!” — closed for its annual July sabbatical this summer and has not reopened.
Louise’s Family Restaurant, opened in 1964, has been shuttered since it was ordered closed by the city health department in late summer. Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen, in business since 1977, also failed a city health inspection. It has been closed since last month.
There is no denying that the slumping economy played a detrimental factor in these business closings. As expected the most vulnerable restaurants are the Mom and Pops that don’t have the finances to keep up with trendy demands.
Aside from a few soul food restaurants such as, Mobay, who have made attempts to cater to current tastes by offering healthier options, most eateries are stuck in neutral. But that’s not to say adjusting their menus would be enough at this point. Sheron Barnes, the owner of Mobay, filed for bankruptcy last month, blaming layoffs in the community for their slowdown.
Despite the hardships, the restaurant still remains open.