Sandy Is Last Straw for One-of-a-Kind Ice Cream Shop

New York City’s East Village is the kind of place where you might not be surprised to find a vegan ice cream shop. And until today there was one — Stogo’s on Second Avenue.

This New York Times article by Maggie Astor (who just happens to be my daughter) tells us why today was the last day of operation for this much-loved neighborhood tradition:

Stogo, which makes organic, vegan, gluten-free ice cream, will close on Sunday, a few days shy of its fourth anniversary. It has struggled to pay rent for some time, but Hurricane Sandy made recovery impossible, said Junie Ishimori, one of the owners who helped start the business in December 2008.

“This is way more important than Twinkies,” one customer declared in reference to the bankruptcy of Hostess brands.

Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
Some customers said Stogo’s closing was like losing a friend.

The store’s name is short for “soy to go,” though Stogo also uses coconut and hemp. The store’s owners were all vegan or lactose intolerant, Ms. Ishimori said, and Stogo stopped using gluten and peanuts about three years ago.

Irena Azovsky, 22, one of Stogo’s nine employees, said that the staff knew regular customers’ names and dietary restrictions, and that people went to the store “just to say hello.”

“It has a not-city vibe,” said Leah Evans, 24, another employee.

Ms. Ishimori would not say how much the store’s rent was, but it is hardly the only small business that has struggled to stay afloat in high-priced Manhattan neighborhoods.

Stogo, which is on Second Avenue, couldn’t pay October’s rent when it came due, but the month brought higher-than-expected sales. “We were starting to say, ‘O.K., we can probably pay this and that,’” Ms. Ishimori said. “Then Sandy hit.”

Stogo lost power for days. Its ice cream spoiled, and even when power returned, it couldn’t reopen until it had replenished its stock. Ms. Ishimori estimated the store lost $6,000 in inventory and $6,000 in sales. “That’s a make-it-or-break-it number,” she said.

Did I mention that the reporter who wrote this article is my daughter?

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Kathy Kattenburg

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