‘Soy’ is Leaving the Lower East Side After 15 Years

Slurp up while you still can. Popular Japanese eatery, Soy, is leaving the Lower East Side after fifteen years in business. Last day on Suffolk Street is Saturday (April 29). A “Grand Closing” banner is strung above the entrance.

Etsuko Kizawa, founding chef and owner of the comfort food spot, is relocating operations upstate to the Catskills (i.e. Rosendale), according to a Facebook update. Small business isn’t appreciate in these parts anymore, and that certainly contributed to her decision to leave.

“I feel the Lower East Side (also the whole NYC) has become too much about façade, money and lifestyle and a small business like me is not as appreciated as it used to,” Kizawa told us in an email. “I was so ready to leave.”

Soy opened in February 2002, a cozy cubbyhole on sleepy Suffolk Street. It outlasted myriad foodie trends and gentrification on the doorstep, and became popular amongst both the meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Now, the neighborhood loses another of its local treasures.

In a blog post dated December 2002, Kizawa explained:

It was the fall of 2001. In the time of economic downturn and after September 11th, I was re-evaluating my life and future like many of us New Yorkers were doing. My handbag business at 102 Suffolk Street was struggling. My work-in-progress documentary film project entered a vault. A film degree and a decade of my ‘career’ as an entrepreneur didn’t help me find a normal job. I had to think of the next move.

It was truly depressing to be here in downtown Manhattan, where we watched and smelt smoke coming from the World Trade Center for months after the attack. But I loved the Lower East Side; after 12 years in the neighborhood, this was my home. I was here to stay. I began to think about what I could possibly offer to the neighborhood.

Then one day, I woke up thinking about SOY.