General Deb’s – The Latest Casualty Of Natural Gas Fight

Andrew Karpan


Nearly everyday, it seems the dreams of a Bushwick restaurant shutters indefinitely over natural gas troubles. The expansion plans of both Empanada City and the halal burger joint BK Jani were curbed by widely publicized battles with National Grid this year. In early October, National Grid executive John Bruckner announced a brief pause on the company’s moratorium on new natural gas connections, following fears of fines. However, this news might have come a little too late for General Deb’s, which shuttered suddenly last week. 

“If I didn’t have something to fall back on, I’d be screwed,” Kevin Adey, owner of General Deb’s told Bushwick Daily. He and his wife just closed the elegant Sichuan joint on Irving Avenue less than two years after its opening. They will return full-time to Faro, the formerly-MIchelin starred Italian restaurant a few blocks away.

Adey say the closing of General Deb’s occurred with little warning.

Owners Kevin and Debbie Adey (pictured at Faro), photo by Nicholas John Stevens

“We let the [National Grid] guy in and two hours later we were told we needed to turn off the gas,” he says. This shuttered operations and Adey says he had little idea of when he would be able to have a new connection set up. Without a restaurant to operate, he had to fire General Deb’s staff of fifteen. 

Their struggle makes them small and inadvertent pawns in the larger fight between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, a proposed pipeline funded by the National Grid and the Oklahoma-based natural gas giant, Williams Companies. Environmentalists say the project would dump mercury and copper into the Atlantic outside Staten Island as well as increase the use of carbon-pollutants; the New York Times called this “an arcane but fevered battle.” 

After threatening to impose a moratorium on new hook-ups if the pipeline wasn’t approved, National Grid did just that – telling a local CBS affiliate that “margins are very tight.”

“This is not a story of National Grid and what they want. This is a story about New Yorkers and the pain that this is causing,” Briant Almonte told Bushwick Daily back in August about the situation stalling their Empanada City dreams on Starr Street, which was scheduled to open earlier this year. Instead, the brand’s bright and colorful wallpaper watched the summer pass by unattended. A representative says they now think things will happen in November.   

Cover image courtesy of Andrew Tobia

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