I’ve written before about my deep love for Stage Restaurant, where regulars feast on Ukrainian specialties and greasy-spoon classics — and the best egg on a roll in New York City. It’s a beloved mainstay of the East Village, and last year, the Voice named it one of the 99 Essential Restaurants in Lower Manhattan. So it pains me to see it closed, as it has been for the almost three weeks since a gas explosion tore down three buildings just across the street on Second Avenue. And now it looks like Stage might be done forever.
According to documents obtained by WNYC, the owners of Stage’s building at 128 Second Avenue (ICON Realty) have dealt the restaurant an eviction notice. A stop-work order was put into effect just three days after the gas explosion across the street, when a Con Ed employee noticed illegally tapped gas lines in the basement of Stage’s building following a resident reporting a smell of gas.
It is not completely clear who was tapping the gas line illegally — the landlord points to tenants, while Roman Diakun (the owner and proprietor of Stage) told DNAinfo, “They don’t want me…I didn’t do any crime.” (ICON Realty has a history of kicking restaurants out of spaces.)
This past week, Diakun could be seen outside the restaurant, talking with longtime regulars and local customers. His son, Andrew, has started an online petition to help save the venerable diner, with over 1,000 signatures already collected.
And while the eviction notice says that Stage has to be out by the end of the month, take heart: A source with knowledge of the situation, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, says Diakun has been meeting with lawyers and might not vacate immediately. “It is not the end, it’s just the beginning,” the insider said.
We’ve also reached out to Diakun, and will update here when we hear more.