By Sabina Mollot
Belgian restaurant Petite Abeille closed the last of its locations on Sunday night, which operated in Peter Cooper Village since 2004.
The owners announced the closure on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Friday, blaming rising operational costs. However, in recent years, Yves Jadot, who owned the restaurant with his brothers David and Christophe, said it was hard to operate a restaurant anywhere in the city unless it’s very cheap or very expensive. Last year, the original Petite Abeille, on West 17th Street in Chelsea, closed. In 2015, the Tribeca location closed with Jadot saying at the time there was too much competition from food trucks for the local lunch crowd. At one time there were four locations of Petite Abeille in Manhattan, the first one opening in 1995.
On Facebook, the owners said, “New York has undergone many changes in the 22 years we’ve been in business and unfortunately the rising cost of operating a neighborhood restaurant is one of them. As a small local business, we are simply not able to carry the hefty costs any longer in order for our business to be financially viable.”
However, they added that there are plans for a new location, but it would not be in Manhattan this time. The owners also said they would try to place their staff members at other restaurants in their network.
Jadot, a native of Brussels, also founded the Mexican restaurant next door to Petite Abeille, Vamos! and La Maison du Croque Monsieur sandwich shop in Union Square.
With other partners, he co-owns the cocktail bars Raines Law Room in Chelsea and East Midtown, Dear Irving on Irving Place and The Bennett in Tribeca as well as English pubs Jones Wood Foundry on the Upper East Side, The Shakespeare Pub (attached to the East Midtown Raines Law Room) and Mediterranean restaurant XYST at the former Chelsea Petite Abeille space, according to his Yves Jadot Restaurant Group website.
The Petite Abeille on the corner of 20th Street and First Avenue had undergone a few changes in recent years in an attempt to attract the newer, younger residents of the community. The walls, once covered in Tin Tin cartoon posters, were later outfitted with darker art and a pool table was brought in. It also had a gelato stand.
Jadot, formerly a resident of Stuyvesant Town, now lives in Westchester.
The Petite Abeille restaurants were popular with an all-ages crowd and hosted annual Miss Belgium pageants.
As for what is to become of the large corner space the restaurant occupied in Peter Cooper, Rick Hayduk, general manager of the complex, said there are not yet plans for a new tenant as the owner only learned of Petite Abeille’s closing on social media.
“Our team is now working to find a restaurant operator to occupy this space,” Hayduk said. “We’re taking into account the need for a neighborhood restaurant that serves the varying demographics of ST/PCV residents and the surrounding neighborhood.”
By Tuesday morning, the restaurant’s artwork was off the walls and its glasses and plates boxed up. With one glass or plate on top of each box, the items appeared to be prepped for display for an auction.