Life Cafe Blog

Nederlander Organization Donated RENT Panel to Life Cafe

 

Hello All.

This is a follow up of the last blog post about the J. Larson Bench moving to Adelphi University . And it’s a story about how small a world it is….

My friend Ann Sachs provided me with the real information about the Nederlander Theatre, and also informed me that it was the Nederlander Organization that donated the RENT stage panel to Life Café. The Nederlander Organization is the client of her company, Sachs Morgan Studio Inc,  who provides comprehensive theatre design and planning services to the performing arts community nationwide. It’s a small world — Ann was the facilitator of my professional women’s group, The Woman Presidents’ Organization and she was fantastic!

The panel from the stage set of RENT at the Nederlander Theatre, donated to Life Cafe by the Nederlander Organization. Here it’s installed in the “Secret Garden” in the back of Life Cafe.

The view of the audience from the stage of RENT at Nederlander Theatre just before demolition, September, 2008

The following is a blurb about the history of the theatre, and here are photos for the theatre. Photo credit: copyright Samuel Morgan Photography.

[Interesting note about a very small world indeed: Sam told me that the Nederlander was a fantastic and fascinating project to work on. He also told me that as a Bushwick Brooklyn resident starting in 2004, he was a frequent patron of Life Café 983 in Bushwick, Brooklyn on Flushing Avenue and loved that it was an option long before there were other places like it in the neighborhood. Neither of us recalls that we ever met.  Amazing connection!]

 

The David T. Nederlander Theatre (1,232-seats) is one of The Nederlander Organization’s nine Broadway theatres. The legacy of the theatre began with David Tobias Nederlander, for whom the theatre is named.  It has had a long and distinguished history.

Built by Walter C. Jordan in 1921, the theatre was originally named the National Theatre; it was renamed the Billy Rose in 1959, when the famed producer/songwriter bought it; christened the Trafalgar in 1979 when it was bought by James and Joseph Nederlander and the British firm of Cooney-Marsh; and renamed The David T. Nederlander in 1980 in honor of the man whose sons now operate the Nederlander Organization.

Stage of RENT from seats just before demolition after closing September 2008

 

The musical RENT to the theatre in 1996. Set in the Alphabet City neighborhood of Manhattan’s East Village, the RENT production occasioned the remodeling of the façade and interior of the theatre to resemble a downtown nightclub. Following the closing of RENT in 2008, after a 12-year run of 5,124 performances, the theatre received a comprehensive renovation.

The Nederlander now houses the new Broadway hit NEWSIES.

Props being taken down from the stage of RENT at Nederlander Theatre after RENT closed September 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stage hand loads props taken from the stage set of RENT at the Nederlander Theatre after RENT closed September 2008

The Nederlander Theatre after restoration after RENT closed. This photo was taken January 29, 2010.


Jonathan Larson Bench Donated to Adelphi University

July 18, 2012

This is the first installment of “Life Cafe New York On Tour”.

The Jonathan Larson Bench is lifted into the Adelphi Univ. truck

It was a special day today. The Jonathan Larson Bench left Life Cafe for good.

Three strong, young men from Adelphi University came to the now closed Life Cafe 983 in Bushwick Brooklyn and removed the Jonathan Larson Bench where it stood temporarily after it left the East Village Life Cafe in September 2011. With the closing of the Bushwick Life the end of June, it was time to find a permanent home elsewhere for it. So I emailed Al Larson, Jonathan’s father, to see if he had any suggestions.

Al and Julie Larson with Kathy Life and John Sunderland at the Finale B Video Contest at Life Cafe right after the dedication of the mahogany bench (where Jonathan wrote RENT) as the “Jonathan Larson Bench”.

He certainly did. We first contacted New York Theater Workshop, home of the original production of RENT and very close to the original Life Cafe. Unfortunately, as much as they would have liked to have it, they simply had no room. Next Al hooked me up with Robert Scott, President of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York on Long Island. Jonathan attended Adelphi on a four-year scholarship as an acting Academic major. Bob was delighted with my offer and didn’t hesitate to accept. Fortunately, he arranged immediate pick-up as the owners of the new business at 983 Flushing Avenue wanted it moved by Thursday when they were to begin renovations. Again, the Universe has provided.

Adelphi University helpers pick up Life Cafe artifacts

Along with the Bench I donated a 4′ x 6′ wall panel I preserved from Life Cafe, two other Life Magazine collaged panels, the wooden “Thank You Jonathan” plaque hand-carved for me by Jonathan’s uncle Gene and a large panel from the original RENT stage set at the Nederlander Theatre given to me by a friend in the theater design business.

Pieces of Life Cafe history

Wall Panel from original Life Cafe

Panel from original RENT production at Nederlander Theatre

I felt a heaviness in my heart as I watched the boys lift the bench into the truck. It felt like a big part of my life was being taken away. But it was heart-lifting to think of its new home at Jonathan’s alma mater. When I think of how many more people will see the Bench and get a sense of Jonathan’s life and work, I am elated. My hope is there will be a re-creation of a corner of Life Cafe where Jonathan sat and drank tea while researching and writing RENT. Moving the bench to Adelphi to their new Theater complex is the right thing to do. I’m grateful that Bob was eager to give the Bench a new home.

Kathy Kirkpatrick ponders Life’s changes

There hasn’t been time to make definitive plans, but Bob Scott and I are in regular contact. Jonathan Martin, Director of Education and Public Awareness for the National Marfan Foundation in Port Washington, New York, is thrilled with the Bench’s new home. We discussed a January or February 2013 event which would coincide with the original off-Broadway opening anniversary, the anniversary of Jonathan’s death AND his birthday. And February is National Marfan Awareness Month. Sadly, Jonathan Larson is a perfect example of why early diagnosis is critical.

Thank You Jonathan plaque hand-carved by Gene Larson. The original plaque hung back stage at the Nederlander Theatre where each cast member touched it before going on stage.

We’ll keep you posted here as I report on LIFE CAFE NEW YORK ON TOUR. Next installment: COLD SOUP IN HOT NEW HAMPSHIRE – WATERMELON GAZPACHO. Check back in to get the recipe and the story.

Photographs of moving Life Cafe artifacts by John Sunderland



LIFE CAFÉ 983 BUSHWICK TO CLOSE JUNE 30, 2012

 June 24, 2012

Nine months ago I had to close the original East Village Life Café. Today I am very sorry and sad to finally announce that I have to throw in my tea towel and close my second venue, Life Café 983 in Bushwick on June 30. A new café/bar will open immediately thereafter under a new name. I shall take a break from the restaurant business for the time being.

 I know it’s hard to believe. After 30 years, in September 2011 I had to close my East Village café because I could no longer carry the huge business losses caused by the two warring landlords who fought over structural repairs to their property.

And a few months later the landlord of my thriving Bushwick café told me that he was not going to extend my lease.

That was the same landlord who in 2001 invited me to open a cafe in the building he just bought on Flushing Avenue. At the time, Bushwick looked like a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland, with nowhere for existing and incoming artists and loft dwellers to eat or drink. He told me the incoming residents desperately needed a watering hole. He said having a café close to his buildings would attract the kind of tenants he wanted. It was the East Village story all over again and I saw it. Except profit wasn’t my motive. Rather, it was another chance to do what I seem to be naturally compelled to do: create a sense of home and connect the neighborhood folks together, offer a safe haven with comforting food and good drink at reasonable prices.

I’m very glad to say that in the end it worked. Yes, it was risky and definitely a struggle the first several years. But eventually Life became a second home for locals and newcomers alike and became the heart of the community much as the East Village Life Café had done in the early 80s. I have met many fine folk throughout the years and have watched as their lives unfolded along with the Café’s. And it was good.

I’ve finally come to terms with the events of the last year. My husband John and I have gotten over our disbelief, anger and sadness at losing both places in one year. We see it now as the Universe giving us a less than gentle nudge into semi-retirement. We’re looking forward to some “Adventures Before Dementia.”

About the new operation, I understand the new owners will make every effort to carry on the spirit of Life. They said, why change something that obviously works, that people like and want. They said they’d make some upgrades that are due and there will be new additions to the menu. And they recognize it’s important not to tamper with the special ambience of Life. In that sense, their intention is for Life Café to live on in spirit, if not in name.

All things come to an end in Life. I leave having created something unique, a bohemian legacy. John and I are now in our sixties and ready for a little R and R, to have a little more time doing the other things we’ve wanted to do.

My experiences during the last 30 years of Life are cause for celebration in the closing of both cafes. Running and owning my cafes has been more than a job. It’s been like having an extended family of staff, patrons and friends. We have made legions of them over the years. Life Café has always been about the relationship between the staff and patrons. A café is more than a place to eat and drink. It’s where special relationships are fostered and melded through conversation, laughter and camaraderie. That’s what a good café is. It’s far more than food and drink. It’s about human connection.

I would like to thank the hundreds of staff members for helping me give something great and unique to the city of New York and the hamlet of Bushwick. But the roll call is too long and no name is greater or lesser than another, for each and every one has played their unique part. But, let me tell you, the guys in the kitchen are the heart and bones of the Café. Any staff member will concur. Hector, who has run the Bushwick kitchen since before it opened and who worked for me at the East Village Café as well for years before, has been particularly exceptional. He has been the kitchen’s foundation. He never missed a beat and has been ever reliable and always amiable. On his strong back Life 983 found its feet and prospered. He and his staff have been the inspiration of the Café. There are more memories than can be mentioned here and many relationships built over time. I will miss you all and will never forget you. Life Café has always had a lot of love about it, and that I shall always have with me.

Please stop by in the next week to check out John’s Life Café Menu Picture Riddle art installation. It is the final one. We have a catalogue on premises and he’s offering the limited edition of originals at very special reduced prices. There will not be any more produced. He would like to leave as many pieces he possibly can with our friends in the Life community.

A last thought before I go; I didn’t make time for a family of my own. Instead, I made time for you. Thank you all for being a part of my family and thank you for allowing me to be a part of yours.

Much peace and love,

Kathy Life


Life Cafe Dinner Specials!!!

6.22-6.28

 APPETIZER

HUMMUS

6.99

Served with carrots, celery and whole wheat pita chips

 

ENTRÉES

HANGER STEAK

16.99  

With a balsamic sauce and served with mashed potatoes

and mixed vegetables

BREADED PORK CHOPS

15.99  

With a French onion sauce and served with mashed potatoes

 BEER BATTERED FISH AND CHIPS

13.99  

Served with cole slaw, French fries and malt vinegar

 

DESSERT SPECIAL

 BREAD PUDDING OR

BISCUIT TOPPED COBBLER

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm

 


Dinner Specials for Life Cafe 983


6.15-6.21

 APPETIZER

FRIED CALAMARI

7.99

Tossed in a sundried tomato vinaigrette over a mesclun salad

 

ENTRÉES

HANGAR STEAK

16.99  

With a red-eye sauce and served with mashed potatoes

and French green beans 

GRILLED SALMON FILET

15.99  

With a pineapple sauce and served with broccoli and couscous 

BRAISED SHORT RIBS

14.99  

Served with garlic mashed potatoes

 

DESSERT SPECIAL

BREAD PUDDING OR

BISCUIT TOPPED COBBLER

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm

 



Dinner Specials for Life Cafe 983

6.8.6.14

 APPETIZER

SHRIMP SPRING ROLLS

7.99

Stuffed with cabbage, carrots, cilantro, garlic and ginger and served with a spicy soy vinaigrette

 ENTRÉES

SIRLOIN STEAK

16.99  

Topped with a mushroom Marsala cream sauce and served

with mashed potatoes and French green beans

 SALMON FILET

15.99  

On a mustard cream dill sauce and served with mashed potatoes and broccoli

 PENNE PASTA

13.99  

With Italian hot sausage, mushrooms, zucchini, sundried tomatoes and spinach tossed in a white wine sauce and topped with goat cheese

 DESSERT SPECIAL

 BREAD PUDDING OR

BISCUIT TOPPED COBBLER

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm


Life Cafe Dinner Specials!!


6.1-6.7

 APPETIZER

FRIED PICKLES

7.99

Served with a buttermilk-horseradish sauce

 

ENTRÉES

 SIRLOIN STEAK

16.99  

With a mushroom bleu cheese sauce, topped with fried onions and served with mashed potatoes and French green beans

PLANTAIN CRUSTED SALMON FILET

15.99  

On a guava sauce and served with couscous and broccoli

  

DESSERT SPECIAL

 BREAD PUDDING OR

BISCUIT TOPPED COBBLER

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm

 



Memorial Weekend Dinner Specials

5.25-5.31              

 APPETIZER

FLASH FRIED CALAMARI

7.99

Tossed in a papaya-chipotle mayo and served on a mesclun salad

 

ENTRÉES

GRILLED SHELL STEAK

16.99  

Topped with a burgundy wine sauce and served with mashed potatoes and French green beans

 GRILLED PORK LOIN

15.99  

Topped with a Marsala cream sauce and served with mixed vegetables and roasted potatoes

 EGG BATTERED PAN FRIED TILAPIA

13.99  

Served with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes

 

DESSERT SPECIAL

 CAPPUCCINO CHEESECAKE

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm

 



Dinner Specials for Life Cafe 983

5.18-2.24

 APPETIZER

SMOKED SALMON TOSTADITOS

7.99

Fried corn tortillas with re-fried beans, mango salsa, lettuce and queso served with jalapeño sour cream

 

ENTREÉS

 GRILLED SHELL STEAK

16.99  

Served with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes

 GRILLED SALMON FILET

14.99  

With grilled endives and served with an arugula salad in a mint vinaigrette and mashed potatoes

 COCONUT CURRY STIR FRY

13.99  

An old school favorite, served with fried tofu over organic brown rice

 

DESSERT SPECIAL

 CAPPUCCINO CHEESECAKE

4.99

Dinner entrees & specials are served 7 Days from 5pm

 



BUSHFLIX TONIGHT @ 7PM!!!

BUSHFLIX TONIGHT-7PM
Showing some old school…Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure…..then a classic with Costner…Tin Cup….we will be featuring $2 PBR’s all night…so come on in and drink with us while enjoying the movies!!