[Photo by Biljana Ustic via Facebook]
East Village resident Hayne Suthon, the owner and operator of restaurant/drag club Lucky Cheng's, died Monday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 57, according to friends.
The Louisiana native's family bought 24 First Ave. in 1986, and she converted the former Club Baths into the Roman-themed Cave Canem. The space became Lucky Cheng's in 1993. (You can read more about the space's history at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.)
Her friend Steve Lewis paid tribute to her yesterday at BlackBook:
Hayne could be described as a wild woman. Those who knew her loved her indiscretions. She wanted to have fun and she did. You can’t define her simply. An old friend told me yesterday that “she lived life” and that is true. It must be remembered that she was a trusted friend.
She was as sharp as they come. Her legal background was always made available to those around her who were less savvy. Despite being racked with cancer, she wanted to make sure that the recently released Michael Alig had every opportunity to right himself. She was fun. She had a twinkle in her that wouldn’t go away no matter how serious things got.
Most recently, Suthon was in a legal fight with the operators behind Pride and Joy BBQ, who were renting the former Lucky Cheng's space on First Avenue. (You can read more about this lawsuit here.)
It's unclear if the lawsuit was ever cleared up. Not much has happened with the space in recent months. Lewis noted this about it: "She was having trouble with her tenant and it wore on her."
Meanwhile, Lucky Cheng's, which moved to Midtown in 2012, remains open.
Per Lewis: "I don’t know what happens now to Lucky Cheng’s. The vultures will see an opportunity to buy low and so it just may go. They'll pick at the bones of her dreams. It's hard to imagine it without Hayne, without that twinkle in her eye."