Ciao is back for Tuesday soup nights, for now

The Micelis, from left, Kevin, Django, Amy — with turkey chili with focaccia — Opal and Atlas. Photos by Bob Krasner

BY BOB KRASNER | Ask Kevin Miceli how he is and it’s likely that he will answer, “I’m amazing!” And you can bet he will be wearing a fabulous hat.

Miceli is the co-owner, with his wife, Amy, of the E. 12th St. eatery Ciao for Now. Beloved by locals for 17 years, the shop recently closed its doors to walk-in business to concentrate on catering, the half of the business that actually made a profit. It was a tough decision for a couple who truly loved their clientele, and, as they put it, “just love to feed people.”

Amy explained that the restaurant was losing money while the catering — for small events, fashion photography shoots, private dinners and the like — was covering the losses. They had previously let go of their West Village location, and it no longer made sense to continue the overhead of a daily shop.

“We were working harder and making less,” she explained.

Kevin shmoozing with customers.

So this past Jan. 31 was the last day for Ciao for Now — until recently.

“It was so weird to walk into this beautiful place and no one was here,” Amy said. “Nothing felt right. I couldn’t deal with it. What killed me was the 10-year-old girl who said to me, ‘I’ve been coming here all my life,’ and started crying.”

Which is why, not long after they closed, Ciao for Now, at 532 E. 12th St., between Avenues A and B, is now open one night a week for soup night on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a back-to-basics approach that lets them once again “enjoy having restaurant,” according to Kevin.

“It’s just the Micelis doing everything,” he said.

Amy and Kevin in the kitchen.

Amy cooks — three soups each time — Kevin takes the orders and dishes them out at the counter, and their oldest child, Django, is the busboy. The other two children, Opal and Atlas, are not yet old enough to work there but are usually around for “moral support.”

They still use local suppliers whenever possible. The turkey in the chili the other week came from the Florence Meat Market, on Jones St. in the West Village, for example.

The primary goal is simple, delicious food. Two of the soup options are always veggie and all come with homemade focaccia. Additionally, various treats are available, as well as beer and wine.

The scene at a recent Tuesday soup night.

Looking to the future, they hope to have a Sunday dinner one night a month and possibly a pancake brunch. But for now, they are happy that the community is “coming together and enjoying the soup,” they said.

The community is pretty happy about it, too. Neighborhood residents Kathleen and Mary are longtime regulars who come for soup every week. Mary had her 80th birthday party in the place. Kathleen called it “a great mom-and-pop business — a legend in the neighborhood.” Now that it’s back, her biggest fear is that “there will be a line down the block” and they won’t be able to get in.

For more information, visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CiaoforNow/ , or follow them on Instagram @ciaofornowny .

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