After 10 years of service, beloved neighborhood eatery Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen is set to close at the end of the month, owner Abel Castro has announced.
“The pandemic affected us all in many ways. Some of us lost a relative, a friend or an acquaintance. I myself lost my dad last year. The pandemic also made us reflect on both our personal and professional lives. I have decided to pursue new endeavors that align with my views of life and happiness. It is for this reason that I have decided to not renew my lease for Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen,” wrote Abel on the restaurant’s Facebook page, adding that April 30 would be the last day of business.
Abel, a Hell’s Kitchen resident since 1990, opened Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen on 10th Avenue between W47th and W48th Street in 2013, using treasured family recipes as the inspiration for his traditional Ecuadorian dishes and for the restaurant’s name. “Ñaño means ‘brother’ in Quechua, the Incan language. In Ecuador, this word is still used to refer to your sibling or friend, just as the word brother is used in the English language,” Abel told W42ST in a 2016 profile. “Because of the word etymology and because I wanted a catchy-short name for the restaurant, I felt this would be perfect.”
Hell’s Kitchen diners quickly felt at home at the small-but-mighty space, recommending Ñaño for its tasty empanadas, PRIDE brunches, pitch-perfect yucca mash and much-loved happy hours. “Nano has all-day happy hour,” said reader Jenny Pierson. “But it’s worth springing for a full-priced drink: for cooler spring and summer days, the canelazo is so good — a cinnamon hot toddy with aguardiente.”
Abel said that he would fondly look back on a decade of hosting the Hell’s Kitchen community, adding: “I take with me some of the most precious memories of my life. I learned that it is possible to materialize your visions. (I learned about the food industry from zero for instance). It was an honor and pride to bring forth the culture and the food that I grew up with. Ñaño left a great impression on this neighborhood as well as the New York City’s gastronomic landscape.”
To commemorate the eatery’s impressive tenure, he plans to hold a “Last Supper” goodbye party on April 30, as well as an after party. “In typical Ñaño’s fashion, we will celebrate with ‘The Last Dance’ on Saturday May 6th,” wrote Abel, as he thanked his loyal following of local diners. “I cannot thank you enough for going along on this amazing ride with me. So many of you have become my good friends. Now it is time for me to learn a new skill and build a new dream. I cannot wait to start anew!”