Friday, September 8, 2017

Cafe Orlin will close next month after 36 years in business


[Photo from Aug. 26]

After 36 years in business at 41 St. Mark's Place, Cafe Orlin will close at the end of service on Oct. 15.

Jeremiah Moss first reported on the news this morning.

A rep for Cafe Orlin confirmed the closure in an email: "Yes — it's sad but true. The owner asked me to say that he's thankful to all who came to the cafe over the years. Cafe Orlin had a great run of 36 plus years, but he's ready for a change."

Grub Street noted that the Cafe Orlin owner also owns the building, "and a new restaurant will open in its place."

And Grub Street summed up the restaurant between First Avenue and Second Avenue pretty well: "The menu is a grab bag of salads, burgers, lots of eggs, and some Middle Eastern dishes, but it was well-executed and reliable." And... "The restaurant ... never dipped in popularity during this very long run: It’s not one of those older places everyone will miss but forgot to go to for the last five years ..."

Meanwhile, Cafe Mogador, Cafe Orlin's sister restaurant down the block, remains alive and well for now.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very big loss. Irreplaceable and in 2017 one of the last portals to the old East Village that I once loved.

Anonymous said...

I love this place. So sad.

Bobby G said...

Orlin was a spot in the heady 80's days of the East Village art scene. You could often find Pat Hearn and other luminaries there having a late breakfast. Sorry to see it go. Time marches on, and it's always right now.

Anonymous said...

A big thank you to Cafe Orlin for so many great meals, great vibes, and not to mention great prices. I think I speak for all the cool people around here when I say we love you and we will miss you so much. On Oct. 16, the East Village will be bereft.

JG said...

Thank you for so many good years. I look forward to seeing what you do next.

Giovanni said...

Sorry to see them go, I was a semi-regular there years ago and have great memories of meals with friends, and Sunday mornings reading the paper. Back then it was either Cafe Orlin for breakfast, Kiev for late nght pierogies, the back room of old Veselka for the best grilled cheese on earth, or Life Cafe for the spicy veggie chili. Whatever they do next, please don't name it after a hairy yellow piece of fruit.

unreceivedogma said...

I remember when the place first opened. It started out as a coffee and pastry shop, and occupied only the room behind the front entrance. I have been going there ever since, about once a week at least.

Sometime in the mid-80s, they expanded into the large room to the left and had a full menu, and became my favorite brunch and dinner place. Then came the third, thin room, was it to isolate smokers before smoking became illegal altogether?

As it turns out, after living in NYC for 45 years, I am also leaving by the end of this month. What a coincidence.

Still sad to see it go. It was a part of what made the East Village the East Village. I have soooooo many terrific memories there. But time marches on.

Anonymous said...

Boo..noo..new place possibly upscale Mediterranean or Italian???

Anonymous said...

The owner is the landlord? The rent hike doesn't exist. Must just want to make money but on what?

Anonymous said...

The poster at 2:52 says he or she is leaving NY after 45 years. Can I ask why you are leaving and where you are going? I am always curious when someone who has lived here so long leaves!

Anonymous said...

This is both sad and worrying, pray the owner is not going to go sports or bar oriented as it will turn our already impassable sidewalk into a nightmare it's become the Jersey Shore from Thursday to Sunday :( i remember when Orlin sprouted from the hippie tea shop that used to there next to the Hair Salon and the original Love Saves The Day! Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes....

Gina Figueroa said...

I adore Cafe Orlin with all my heart. Please don't go!

Pauline said...

Home away from home for over 20 years. That's it. The last nail in the coffin. My NY exists no more.

Anonymous said...

So the same owner is going to open a new restaurant in its place? OKay. Here's to some new memories then.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving because the NYC I grew up in and loved is no longer the same at all, it's changed drastically for the worst. Most try and play it off like it's still great when it's not. The majority of people in NYC aren't even New Yorkers anymore, NYC has lost its spunk and spirit, I'm over it.

Winston said...

Gooxbye, old friend, Cafe Orlin! Sad.

Anonymous said...

It is sad. Very sad in fact given its history and reputation. However, after nearly four decades of business, the owner is entitled to move forward in a new direction. Life eventually changes and so do the people in it. Perhaps its impending replacement will be somewhat similar to its predecessor?

In any event, this closure is a mere signification of how quickly the EV is transforming into another neighborhood. Even though I've lived in NYC since 2000, I've only been a resident of the EV since 2010. Since my time here, I've witnessed several of my favorite haunts and locales disappear virtually overnight. Without their presence, it seems and feels somewhat foreign. Certain places represent something for certain individuals, especially a destination such as Cafe Orlin, which I personally think is viewed as a beacon of comfort and normalcy for our fellow EV dwellers. Let's cross our fingers and hope the following operation will be just as cool and inviting. XO

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to see it go, but, at least its closing because the owner wants to reincarnate it into a new business of her or his choice -rather than it being forced to shutter from the force or time, tide, and gentrification. Many of our current staples here in the EV were once the new thing that replaced something else. We also got to have Orlin for 30 years, when so many of our great local businesses and interesting spots pop up and close up within months

Last thought though, we don't need another coffee spot, frozen yogurt, dumpling, vegan, or noodle shop. St. Marks is overflowing with them to the point they must be cutting into each other's margins. I know all things must change but I would love to see the diversity of shops and restaurant types return.

Anonymous said...

Hardly any customers during weekdays, but packed during brunch (patrons clog the sidewalk waiting for a table).

Owner is just capitalizing on the East Village of today. New restaurant will be catering the moneyed new East Villagers, transients and tourists.

It's a shame that the older generation is being pushed out and have to move. East Village used to be where both the young and old coexist and learn from each other. Now the young sees the old that need to be disposed or stowed away. The old is seen as sucking out the life and energy and the youth out of the young. East Village of today is no country for old man.

unreceivedogma said...

To anonymous @ SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 AT 4:30 PM

I came to The East Village to attend the Cooper Union Art School. I graduated in '76 but stayed, eventually moving from tenements on East 6th street to a loft in the area where I have been for 41 of those years, thanks to The Loft Law that thousands of us organized and fought for.

Some of my other dearly loved restaurants that are gone: East Post, Cafe Centocette (replaced by the disgustingly pre-fab-chainlink Nicoletta), the old Visage before they ruined it by turning it into a noisy bar, La Paella (I used to go there every week with my wife), Round the Clock (where I was eating breakfast when the plans hit in 9/11), The Great Jones Cafe, the Kiev. Restaurants that are still here, but for how long is anyone's guess: Jules, B+H, Sammy's (an admittedly acquired taste).

As for music: I remember the Free Being record store, which became Sounds, and Finyl Vinyl. The Fillmore/Village East (now a bank and housing complex). I thought the fight to keep CBGBs was nuts: the community that supported it is long gone. The Bottom Line, with the best sound system ever. The Mud Club, Area, Andy Warhol's Electric Circus, and of course, my favorite, Max's Kansas City, where I once spent a couple of nights out of every week, and saw Gram Parsons, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainright and so many others.

There's Nuyorican Poets, where my wife and I met and were married. It is still here but is a far cry from the authenticity of the 70s-90s (it was born on 6th street in the building I lived in at the time. Miguel Pinero, R.I.P. I still am friends with a handful of the original founders. The current management, meh). That part of the Village was once called Losaida. Now, the ethnic diversity - Puerto-Ricans, Ukrainians, Polish, etc - has all but vanished. I remember sitting in B+H Dairy for breakfast, and one of the help had numbers stamped on her arm. That was my first exposure to a camp survivor from WWII. Most of the Eastern European people are gone. The mixture of the young and the old, where you could rub up against history. The community that was once here...

I suppose I should write a book about the East Village I knew, the one with grit, character and heart. Not necessarily the one with the gallery scene that I was also a part of: with hindsight, that was the beginning of the end. Now I get up in the morning to walk my dog, and I see millennials rushing to the subway to get to their cubicles and step around the Maseratis and the Lamborghinis.

By now you get the drift. We are leaving because it's time. I grew up in the countryside, and I'm moving to a small city on the Hudson that has the grit that the East Village used to have, and where I can get on my bicycle and be in the country in 5 minutes. How long it will have that grit, who knows, the arrival of people such as myself - artists, always used as the first wedge of gentrification - could signal the beginning of the end there as well, but I will have my own home, it will be quiet, and there will be little to distract me from my work.

I was an avid bicyclist 45 years ago, long before it became ubiquitous. I remember bicycling up to Nyack and back in the 70s and seeing at most a half dozen others. Now there are hundreds, even thousands. Or bicycling to Prospect Park where I would do a dozen laps and having bricks and bottles thrown at me as I bicycled through some of the tougher neighborhoods. I don't miss that part, lol. Now, thankfully, there is (mostly) racial harmony.




unreceivedogma said...

I forgot to mention the closing of the St Mark's Bookstore! That one hurt: I remember when the store was actually on St Marks, near the middle of the block. The staff was often too snotty and stuck up by a factor of 10, but I loved to browse there. As a member of the Cooper Alumni Association and friend of the Chairman of the Cooper Union BoT, I tried to help find a compromise. The owners of the bookstore had themselves in part to blame: they needed to diversify their business model if they were to stand any chance of withstanding competition from online stores. They wouldn't, or couldn't, do it. They wanted a handout from Cooper Union, the landlord, who itself is a not-for-profit with a fiduciary duty to maximize revenues from their properties. Alas, the school is no longer free, yet another East Village casualty.

And Kim's video is gone too.

There was once a video store above Kaminstein's hardware store, which was once where the Cooper dormitory stands now. Screenwriter's and poets would do readings there. I remember in particular John Sayles doing readings of his scripts. If St Mark's bookstore only did stuff like that.

Christopher Pelham said...

Cafe Orlin is my favorite and I am sad to se it go, but recetnly they have been closing early on week nights and not allowing people to sit in the side room, which is quieter, so it seems like they lost the will to maintain it as the best late night dining spot. I hope the new incarnation will not be too expensive or drinking oriented and will still have a more docerse menu than Mogador.

Anonymous said...

The end of an era :(

Anonymous said...

Was a longtime regular at Orlin evenings only whose varied dinner fare I found remarkable for both the reasonable prices and limited kitchen resources. A couple of years ago things went so far south with surly nighttime management and listless waitstaff I never returned and removed my patronage to Mogador albeit considerably less frequently. Love Mogador and continue to frequent but menu has never been as extensive as Orlin's if you're not in the mood for their very fine Middle Eastern fare. R.I.P Cafe Orlin and so many others...I do love sushi and all other Asian cuisines but it was nice to regularly order off the kind of expansive European dinner menu and daily specials Orlin always had.

Anonymous said...

This will be a yet another gastropub seeving high-end and expensive cocktails catering to the patricians and not the commoners.

Abfus said...

This outpouring of love for Cafe Orlin got me thinking: What would the reaction be today to an EV Grieve post announcing the opening of an identical establishment?

Maybe something along the lines of "There goes the neighborhood. Do we really need yet another place serving basic breakfasts and mimosas that caters to the frat-bro-brunch crowd? I don't need my walk down St. Mark's place to include dodging the noisy hoards of cold-brew-toting NYU kids and tourists that linger outside every day waiting for a table."

I don't mean to be obnoxious, but I was just surprised by the sentimentality over this place's departure. I've lived in the neighborhood for 6+ years, and I've been hanging out here since I was old enough to take a subway, but I deliberately avoided that place. Often very crowded with a menu of burgers and sandwiches that could be had anywhere -- including in the friendly confines of Odessa.

Anonymous said...

So the owner sold out to the new, moneyed East Village crowd.

'Glad I never stepped foot in his overrated place.

Anonymous said...

The "hippie tea shop" referred to in an earlier posting was called Café Espresso. The floors were not level, not a stick of furniture matched, they served massive cups of coffee, you could sit for hours with one cup and, no kidding, people discussed philosophy, art, politics and music long into the night. Café Orlin leveled the floors, installed new matching furniture and the joint was filled with yuppies.

I never went in.

Anonymous said...

Some of yall are so rude. take your shitty comments to yelp, thats where they belong.

Greg Cellamare said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. This was one of my favorites! $23 dollar bottle of Rose...best price in the city!

La Sirena Mexican folk art said...

Dear Orlins, sad to see you go.......go to for our staff meetings, great date nights, friends from around the world gatherings. Always good home style, fresh food with good choices.
There is no place like you, you will be missed. Wish it was Mogadore that was closing if one has to. Not the great variety, lost something a while back
Orlins with sweet staff and great food.......... Adios and wish you well !

Anonymous said...

Awwww I'll miss Diana's breakfast and a chill, reliable place to meet up for creative meetings or catching up with friends. Sometimes late nights. And the outside wrought iron patio on sunny days. Everything's closing from back in the day.

Anonymous said...

Went to cafe Orlin with my father as a little baby, with my uncles as a child, with my cousins as a teenager, with my girlfriends as a young adult, with my coworkers in my early thirties and now with my younger family members.
A lifetime of memories that will never be forgotten.
Thank you so much for such a delicious and welcoming space for so long. It had meant the world to a lot of us for a long time

Anonymous said...

Your memories are sweet, but consider us "millennials" who were born and raised in the east village and live and die by the vile labor markets created by your generation. instead of evacuating and spewing vitriol at a generation you don't relate to, you could still live the life of the artist that your 18-year-old self aspired to and give some credence to the vibrant world that exists, if not in your immediate environs, then in another neighborhood, another borough. we're sick of hearing this shit.