Retro Diner Mr. Donahue’s Will Close on August 5

A spread from the restaurant. Photo: Tirzah Brott

In New York, tiny restaurants that hit the big time (of critics reviews and “best of” lists) tend to serve tasting menus with prices as exclusive as their seats. But the nine-seat Mr. Donahue’s is a lunch counter specializing in a retro-leaning style of American cooking — think dishes like dry-aged meat loaf and confetti tomatoes — offered for the flat, affordable price of $20 for a main, sauce, and two sides. The restaurant was a hit, earning a NYT Critics’ Pick and two stars from the New York Times’ Pete Wells, as well as praise from New York’s Adam Platt. But it wasn’t meant to last. Owners Ann Redding and Matt Danzer have announced that the restaurant will close on August 5.

In a letter that will be posted to the restaurant’s website, the pair (also behind the Thai hit Uncle Boons) says the decision was made after coming “to the realization that the concept is ill suited to the limitations of our tiny space.” This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of their crab imperial, as the letter states they hope to find a new space for Mr. Donahue’s, and they say they will open a takeout version of Uncle Boons in the spot. “It’s what we originally got the space for,” Redding says, adding that they should be able to open it “pretty quickly.”

Here’s the full note from Redding and Danzer:

Dear Friends,

Sadly, we must say goodbye for now.

It was a very tough decision for us to make but though we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished at Mr. Donahue’s, we’ve come to the realization that the concept is ill suited to the limitations of our tiny space. We will be closing our little restaurant and our last day of service will be August 5th. It is our hope to find a new home for Mr. D’s.

We want to thank everyone for your tremendous support over this last year and are truly grateful that we had the opportunity to serve you. We’ve been really lucky to have such great regulars (Daniel & Ursula-Thanks!!!) and people who embraced our “grandma cuisine”. We also want to thank our team for putting their all into this with us.

Please come visit us one last time for our Roast Beef, Chicken-Fried Pork Cheeks & Crab Imperial.

On a brighter note, will be opening a new concept in the space and are all very excited to show you what’s next.

With gratitude,

Matt, Ann and the Mr. D’s Team

Retro Diner Mr. Donahue’s Will Close on August 5