Life Cafe Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Menu Riddle’

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


SUPER BOWL TONIGHT @ LIFE CAFE 983

Come watch the Super Bowl tonight and cheer on your favorite team!! Watch the game on TWO tv’s!! DRINK SPECIALS  AS WELL AS FLASH SPECIALS ALL NIGHT LONG!!! Come on in and relax and enjoy the game and the COMMERCIALS starting at 6PM!!


SHAKING THE TREE OF LIFE (or) Fresh Life

May 20, 2011

It’s time, well, past time, to shake the tree of Life. And so we have, as you’ll notice.

We’ve lived with scaffolding surrounding the building that houses Life Café for too many months. Our landlords continue to work out their issues over renovations to the buildings leaving us stuck in the middle of their wrangling.

So to give our old tree a shake, I’ve brought in my good friend Darin Rubell, founder of Mercadito and owner of Gallery Bar and Ella in the Lower East Side. Darin’s brief is to re-vitalize Life Café. He loves the East Village and Life Cafe and sees the Cafe’s 30-year history as an essential part of the fabric of the area. His mission is to bring new life to the old girl! And he’s passionate to see this happen. To that end he’s brought in Chef Consultant Paul Yellin to breathe new life and taste into our menu, creating new twists on old favorites and introducing some exciting new ones. The new menu with its fresh graphic styling makes it easier to choose a menu item and it’s much more easy to handle.

First Readers of Redesigned Life Cafe Menu

It’s still the old Life, but when you come in you’ll feel the buzz and excitement from the staff and the customers alike over what’s going on. You’ll notice the improvements right away when you step through the door. This week saw a fresh coat of paint and a new look: a soft creamy white ceiling with soft grey accents brighten up the room. Out have gone our vintage TV’s and in have come flowers and a more open feel. Our cozy corner is still cozy but without the one-eyed monster looking down on you. A second black chalkboard wall helps announce our new specials. John Sunderland’s off-the-wall artwork of his menu-based picture riddles remain in house to continue our policy of connection with the arts and to spur lively conversation among customers.

Fresh Look for Life Cafe for Spring 2011

Outside in back our freshly planted secret garden became a lush tropical jungle this week with all the rain, whilst out front our new bistro style sidewalk café brings a surprisingly European flavor to the corner of 10th and B.

Spring Bursts open in Life Cafe's Garden

We hope you will enjoy the new life we are breathing into the old, just in time for the next thirty years! Tune in tomorrow for “Who’s that Yellin’ in the Kitchen?” where we’ll give you a look into the exciting flavors Chef Paul Yellin has created for us.


Menu Picture Riddle Answer Life Cafe 983


As for Life Cafe in Bushwick, we got another picture riddle by John Sunderland to reveal. It is Rasputin Imperial Stout. Yeh, you got it!

By the way, John Sunderland’s weird and wonderful art work is for sale. If you’re interested, contact him direct at j.g.sunderland1@mac.com. You can see more of his works at www.redbubble.com too.

Menu Picture Riddle Answer Life Cafe East Village


The answer to last week’s is Snake Bite (ouch!)


MENU RIDDLE ANSWER Life Cafe East Village


The answer to last week’s Menu Riddle at the East Village Life Cafe is . . . ROCKS! As in bar drinks “on the rocks.” It was on display until Monday, October 26.

If you got the answer right and left us your email address (that’s readable), you’ll win a free bottle of champagne! We’ll notify you via email. Then call or email us back and let us know when you’ll be in to enjoy it.

John’s pastel drawings depict as a riddle an item from one of our menus — the All Day, Brunch, Coffee Drinks, Dessert, any of our menus. And it could be a word, a section heading, anything! Often than not it’s one of our menu items. If you study each of them enough and look for clues in his drawings, the answer is bound to pop out to you.

Thanks for playing and good luck with the next one. (John posts new ones on Fridays, unless he’s late and puts one up on a Sunday, which has been known to happen from time to time.)