You may recall that the 55-year-old Village soul food restaurant the Pink Tea Cup was going to close on January 3rd because of a decline in trade, and that fans of the place (including manager Vincent Pinkney) were collecting donations to keep it open.
The Tea Cup has indeed closed, but Lawrence Page, proprietor of the Actors’ Playhouse on 7th Avenue South, says he scraped up the money — according to both Page and former owner Lisa Ford, a whopping $400,000 — to buy the Pink Tea Cup “brand,” and that he’ll reopen the restaurant somewhere in the West Village, hopefully by the end of February. He intends to keep Pinkney on in a management role.
Ford confirms the deal, and says her understanding is that the new Pink Tea Cup will be “within walking distance” of the old Grove Street site.
Money donated to the cause via the Save the Pink Tea Cup Facebook page and elsewhere, says Ebonie Johnson Cooper of the “Team Teacup” fundraising team, will be used to help set up the new place. Cooper says donations are still being accepted — about $2,000 was raised at a Pink Tea Cup event this past weekend — and a new web site will be set up soon at which donors can “buy a brick” on which their names will be engraved and implanted in the new restaurant.
The staff of the old Pink Tea Cup is expected to be retained at the new one.
Page, a filmmaker by trade who has “partnered” on other restaurants and once ran the J’adore bakeries in Manhattan, has no other restaurant holdings at present, but says he’s working on a deal that will not only keep the Pink Tea Cup in the West Village, but add a “French bistro,” to be called Le Bonne Boeuf, right next door, though that may have to wait till summer.
As to the Pink Tea Cup menu, “nothing’s changing,” says Page, though he “might add shrimp and grits and so on — add-ons, not take-offs.”
Page also says the Tea Cup wasn’t shut because of a lack of business, but because of “bad accounting… the numbers didn’t make sense, people weren’t doing the right thing.” He refuses to elaborate, but adds that as a ten-year Village resident he’s eager to “bring the West Village back, add some more spice,” and says “Lisa Ford gave me her blessings to keep the Pink Tea Cup going for the next 50 years.”
Ford confirms the deal, and says she will indeed keep an eye on the new place, in visits from Atlanta, where she plans to retire soon. “We’re gonna keep a close eye on those guys,” she says. “It’s a family heirloom, so we gotta protect it… I told [ he can expect to see me every six months, and when I come he has to pay for it.”