Applewood Closes After 12 Years In The Neighborhood, Champions Of Slow Food Movement

applewood closes
Photo via jasond97214

Owners Laura and David Shea of Applewood (501 11th Street) announced yesterday that their restaurant has closed after 12 years.

“The response has been overwhelming in the last 24 hours,” says co-owner Laura Shea. “You don’t realize how many people you’ve touched. Couples have gotten married at Applewood. This is all bittersweet, for sure.”

Laura assured us this wasn’t an issue involving the landlord of the building. “Dave and I moved to Chatham, New York about 3 1/2 years ago,” she says. “We’ve been managing the restaurant remotely with a weekly trip to the city.”

But the commute and the distance began to make the experience challenging.

“For the most part we had an excellent and dedicated group running the kitchen,” says Laura. “Applewood is at its best when Dave and I are on premises. When people who have invested in the business are present, things run a certain way. But it hasn’t been quite what we wanted it to be as of late. We’ve come to the end of our ability to manage it from afar.”

Applewood has been very much part of the Slow Food movement, which champions serving food from sustainable farms and only offering antibiotic- and hormonal-free meats. And while the term “sustainable” is de rigueur in this day and age — cue Season 1, Episode 1 of Portlandia — the Sheas preceded a lot of the hype.

Laura tells us that “we were considered the pioneers of that for the area. We had a lot of trouble sourcing some items at the beginning. No one was getting deliveries from the local guys. Farmers were not being represented — but that has definitely changed.”

At the outset, acquiring ingredients really kept the Sheas on their toes.

“When we first opened, we found a guy that would drive from farm to farm,” says Laura. “We’d piggyback our orders with a place called Pumpkins, which closed about a decade ago.”

Even though the restaurant was just off 7th Avenue, it still seemed hidden. The interior was known for its charm, and the fireplace and exposed brick were comfy.

And Applewood was no stranger to sponsoring benefits for food charities.

When asked if they have plans to open another restaurant near their home upstate, Laura tells us, “we are definitely thinking about it.”

Laura and some friends opened Bimi’s Cheese Shop in Chatham. “It’s what I do full-time,” she says. “And Dave is considering some other options.”

“Time and again Park Slope pulls off a kind of restaurant that never feels quite as right in Manhattan. It’s homey but not the least bit frumpy, easygoing without tipping into carelessness, urbanely rustic,” wrote Frank Bruni of the New York Times. “Exhibit A: Applewood, which even manages to evoke the country smack dab in the middle of the city.”

Laura says they will miss their time here. “Applewood has been great. We needed to close it while it’s still great.”


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