'Save Your Soul', NYC: Campaign hopes to rescue beloved Pink Tea Cup soul food restaurant
Longtime manager Vincent Pinkney wants to buy The Pink Tea Cup. (Photos: Ilana Panich-Linsman)
The Pink Tea Cup’s telephones have been ringing off the hook for two weeks straight, ever since its owner decided to close the legendary West Village soul food restaurant after 55 years.
Fans like Sylvia Carter, a food writer and faithful patron since 1969, are devastated by the news and hope the restaurant can be saved.
“I can’t bear the thought of it not being there,” she said. “It’s like home for me.”
The troubled economy, a decline in revenue, and rising rent are among the reasons owner Lisa Ford has decided to close on Jan. 3.
The Pink Tea Cup’s longtime manager, Vincent Pinkney, isn’t ready to give up — he wants to buy the restaurant.
“We want to help save this institution,” Pinkney said. “I want to keep this place in existence for a very long time so we can continue to satisfy the soulful stomachs and personalities of New Yorkers.”
A group of New Yorkers also committed to the survival of the restaurant reached out to Pinkney immediately after learning the news.
The “Team Teacup” members, Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Ezinne Kwubiri and Robert Harmon Jr., have set up a Facebook fan page to promote the “Save Your Soul” campaign.
The campaign is asking people to donate $5, and a fundraiser is scheduled for Jan. 3 at the restaurant, where the team hopes to receive significantly larger donations to hit the $100,000 goal.
Donations can be made at www.savethepinkteacup.blogspot.com.
“We believe we can help with the support of the community,” said Cooper, who has been eating at the restaurant for more than 15 years. “It means so much to the city. We need to save businesses like the Pink Tea Cup so that small family businesses won’t all be run over by the economy.”
Kwubiri added: “As a community, we shouldn’t just let places like this fall through the cracks.”
Foodies, tourists and celebrities alike have long dined within the pink walls at 42 Grove St. (Carter recalls the days when actual pink tea cups were used.) Photos on the wall – Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg among many notables – speak to its widespread appeal.
The Save Your Soul campaign doesn’t want to let that legacy vanish.
“I think the fundraiser will be a strong support to keep the doors of the Pink Tea Cup open,” Pinkney said. “We’re really hoping for a miracle on Grove Street during this holiday season.”