Where will we get ostrich carpaccio and monkey gland sauce now?
Fort Greene restaurant Madiba — Brooklyn’s best and only South African eatery — says it is in the red and will have to close its doors soon unless it can scrounge together enough cash to stay afloat. But employees say they still can’t imagine the neighborhood without the 17-year-old staple.
“Leaving is unthinkable, going out of business is unthinkable,” said Madiba’s community outreach coordinator Ruen Ellis. “We’re a community institution.”
The bustling DeKalb Avenue eatery opened in 1999, and has since won over many residents with its colorful decor and fiery curries.
But the eatery has now racked a mountain of debt — at least some of which it owes to loan sharks, according to a Forbes report — and can’t cover its ever-rising rent and building repairs, Ellis said.
The business attempted to expand into Manhattan in late 2014 but closed that outpost within a year — the company claims it struggled because it couldn’t secure a full liquor license there.
Now owner and head chef Mark Henegan is asking customers to help cover his costs and keep the business alive. Fans have kicked in around $16,500 via an online crowd-funding campaign and another $3,500 at a fund-raising event last Wednesday — but that will only cover part the $200,000 he says he needs.
Madiba hasn’t had a lease with its landlord for nearly seven years, so bringing in an outside investor would be difficult, Ellis said.
Still, Ellis says he is heartened by how many people have kicked in cash so far and remains optimistic the restaurant could survive.
“Just from seeing the outpouring of support we know there’s hope,” he said.
If Henegan does raise enough money, the business will either try to negotiate a lease with its landlord or try to find a cheaper space in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ellis said.
Madiba [195 DeKalb Ave. at Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 855–9190, www.madib
©2015 Community News Group
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