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Final Meals at Closing Restaurants: ‘I Will Dream of Those Dumplings’

Even New Yorkers who have moved away are returning to say goodbye to their favorite restaurants.

Matthew Kepnes, a travel writer, remembers the day, seven years ago, when he discovered Yuba, a no-frills sushi place in the East Village. “It was 5 o’clock, and it was way too early for dinner, but I was hungry,” he said. “The restaurant was just opening, so I went in, sat down,” he recalled. He ordered a crab roll with jalapeños and lemon. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really good.’”

From that moment on, Yuba was his place. “I hated my roommate, so whenever I needed to get out of the house I would go and chill for a couple of hours and read a book,” said Mr. Kepnes, 39. “I became Facebook friends with the owner. They know my order. It was never full for me, they would always find a spot.” He went at least three times a week, he said.

In late July, Mr. Kepnes, who now lives in Austin, Tex., passed through New York on a work trip (he had been in Massachusetts before so he didn’t have to quarantine). One of his first stops was to Yuba, which had recently announced it would be closing on Aug. 14.

“It was a stroke of luck that I happened to be back before they closed,” he said. “I would have been really, really sad.”

Fellow restaurateurs, too, are making their own pilgrimages.

Jamie Erickson, 37, who runs a catering company and cafe called Poppy’s, made sure to stop by the Good Fork, a restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, run by the chef and cookbook author Sohui Kim, on its last day of service.

“I took a walk down Van Brunt Street with my daughter in the stroller and enjoyed Sohui’s famous pork-and-chive dumplings, and crispy tofu with kimchi and fried eggs,” she said.

“I will dream of those dumplings.”

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