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Anita Lo Closes NYC Restaurant as Cat Cora’s Prepares to Open

anita lo
Michael Sharkey for OUT

A bittersweet goodbye as the city’s food scene continues evolving.

Following a 17-year run in New York's Greenwich Village, Anita Lo's restaurant Annisa is closing this May. After her real estate taxes doubled to more than $80,000 and minimum wage went up, she was left with no other option.

Lo, who was featured as one of OUT's 2014 Tastemakers and received numerous accolades during her run as the restaurant's owner, made her employees a priority. She recently switched to a no-tipping model in order to compensate for the differences in pay between servers and kitchen staff. In order to do so, she had to raise menu prices, which cost her some of the establishment's regulars.

"What you can charge for a meal hasn't kept up with the other rising costs, so you can't just pay people more," Lo told Eater. "Margins have shrunk tremendously. We're unfortunately losing lots of fine-dining businesses, and if it keeps going the way it has been with landlords being unchecked and selling to people that don't even live here, New York will just be like any other Mall of America with big chains everywhere."

Related | Tastemakers 2014: Anita Lo

Although she's held ownership with other restaurants in the past, Annisa has remained Lo's only establishment. With four more years on her lease, it's not clear what her next step as a restaurateur will be.

New York restaurants come and go almost as frequently as Broadway shows, but to see the end of a local fixture after almost two decades is bittersweet. As one downtown staple bids farewell, another will inevitably pop up in the food scene's ever-evolving rhythm

Iron Chef star Cat Cora has announced she'll be taking over the spot on West 14 Street (previously The Diner) to open Fatbird in the spring. This culinary venture is the chef's first standalone restaurant to date and will embrace southern style cuisine with an unconfirmed menu of fried chicken, biscuits, crawfish hushpuppies and catfish tacos.

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