VANISHING (sort of)
This note came in from a reader: "I live above Caffe Dante on MacDougal St between Bleecker and Houston St, and I've heard rumors in the building that Caffe Dante's last day will be this Sunday."
Alarmed by this information, I went to check it out. I was told by an employee that the cafe is closing this Sunday, but for renovations--and a change of concept. The owner's son is taking over and will be putting in a full kitchen and bar, changing Caffe Dante into a restaurant. The coffees and pastries will remain, but to a lesser degree.
Reopening in about six weeks, it may or may not still be "Caffe Dante."
Dante has been in business since 1915. One of the once plentiful Italian coffee shops of the Village, it was frequented by the Beats, and by folksingers like Bob Dylan.
It's an old-fashioned, comfortably lived-in cafe, with wobbly tables and faded photos on the walls. It remains one of the few spots where you can sit quietly and read, sipping a beverage, unbothered. (While I sat in the quiet, a man came in and asked, "Is there a place where I can plug in my phone? I need to make a lot of calls." The answer was no and, thankfully, he left.)
Let's hope that Dante remains Dante, and stays a quiet, contemplative spot.
To be safe, if you want to experience the old Caffe Dante, go before Sunday. In a couple of months, one way or another, it won't be the same.