Bowery Boogie reports that the venerable, low-key but lively Ludlow Street coffee shop the Pink Pony Café has closed permanently. There's not yet been any official comment from its owners, but the café's roll-down gates have been down for a couple of weeks, and its phone number is disconnected. "No notes, missives, or thank you letters posted anywhere," the blog reports. "Just a quiet departure."
Real estate on the short stretch of Ludlow Street between East Houston and Delancey has become particularly emblematic of the rapid and wholesale changes in the East Village. Owner Lucien Bahaj had indicated previously it was increasingly difficult to continue doing business as usual in the literal shadow of giant condos and the associated rent spikes.
The restaurant — a hangout for artists, writers, and other assorted hangers-on* — avoided closure in early 2011 when sublessee Bahaj and Ulli Rimkus, owner of conjoined tenant Max Fish, were able to sign a conditional one-year lease. At the time, Bahaj said he was looking to relocate the Pink Pony, but wasn't sure where it would go. "There's nothing tragic about it," he told Grub Street, after his rent was tripled. "We can move it somewhere else."
*No matter what happens to the Pink Pony, the author of this post wants to thank the establishment for serving him soup and a sandwich at no charge one bitterly cold winter night in 1996, when he had a really bad fake ID in his pocket but no cash.