Monday, September 12, 2011

After 30 years, Life Cafe closes — 'until further notice' — in the East Village

I first posted this last night... Yes, Jonathan Larson wrote "Rent" here while hanging out in the early 1990s, a topic we'll explore a little later. Headline: Inspiration for "Rent" felled by landlord dispute.

[Photo by Faces]

We've heard these rumblings for weeks... now it's official: Life Cafe on Avenue B and 10th Street is closing after 30 years. Perhaps for good.

Per the Life website:

Dear friends,

On this auspicious day of 9/11/11, after 30 years in business, I am closing Life Cafe East Village this evening “until further notice.” I’m doing this due to issues around building repairs the landlords were supposedly going to complete one year ago. Until the landlords complete the repairs, I will remain closed. We anticipate a rebirth of Life Cafe sometime in the near future. Thank you for your loyal patronage over the years.

You are welcome to stop by as my guest today and raise a glass with me to Life!

Because Life is worth Loving.

Kathy Life

Michael Sean Edwards took these photos of what might be Life's last night in recent months. [Apologies — I misunderstood Michael — these weren't from tonight]

Here's a post we ran back on Sept. 15, 2009...

Nice piece on BushwickBK about Life Café, which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary in Bushwick. Co-owner Kathy Kirkpatrick opened the first location, of course, on 10th Street and Avenue B in 1981. Here's a snippet from the article:

[T]here were also many hardships in running a café that could barely stay afloat. Kathy held an office job in midtown and all the work was straining her marriage. The couple split in 1984 and David wanted to sell the café. Kathy refused and resolved to run it by herself, just as New York City sank into the crack epidemic and the East Village swarmed with unpredictable junkies.

"It was hard for us working in a little neighborhood café, forced to do drug intervention, something we weren’t trained in or prepared for," she said. "We had people shooting up and OD-ing in our bathroom and things were getting pretty ugly."

[Photo via Cactusbones]


Anonymous said...

will will the staff and kitchen help do while she decides to have a landlord dispute?

dwg said...

Hope it's not forever. I like that place. Forever a touchstone. Hate to lose a touchstone.

HippieChick said...

Didn't this use to be the Deja Vu, my home away from home when I lived at 325 East 10th?

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Well, this is a bummer. It's sad to think they survived the 80s only to go out now, along with so many other neighborhood icons.

MizuWari said...

Kind of a ignoble death, having survived so many social sea changes just to peter out at this point. I always walked by this joint, never thinking it would be gone one day. Can't take anything for granted, it seems.