Yesterday morning, I broke the news that the Cafe Edison is about to vanish. The Edison Hotel is denying this New York institution a new lease after 34 years in business. The Cafe Edison is beloved, but I had no idea just how beloved. The outpouring has been tremendous.
Soon after I posted the news, it spread like wildfire across the Internet, from Broadway.com to Playbill. It quickly appeared in the Daily News, the New York Post, and the New York Times, who reported: "The cafe will be replaced by a white-tablecloth restaurant with 'a name chef,' Mr. Strohl said. He has told the staff of 32 that they will be out of work. The hotel’s general manager, Richard Hotter, wrote in a statement that 'we can confirm that the cafe is closing as the hotel prepares for a multimillion-dollar investment to upgrade and restore the space.'"
Immediately, fans of the cafe took to Facebook and Twitter to share their outrage and call for a protest. The Twitter hashtag #SaveCafeEdison was created by the folks behind the Tony Award-winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. They also made this lovely image, saying "We can help":
Theater guy Jason Bratton started a petition, which is now up to nearly 2,000 signatures.
This morning, Broadway actor Martha Plimpton wrote a piece for the Daily News, saying, "Oh, my God, it’s a tragedy. The Cafe Edison should be landmarked." And "There is absolutely nothing redeeming about the Times Square of today."
Julie Klausner wrote a piece for Grub Street, saying, "this closing feels different: like the final dagger in the Times Square Tourist Elmo Massacre."
People want to take action. So here's the plan: Tomorrow, starting at noon and going to whenever, there will be a Lunch Mob for Cafe Edison. You can join the event on Facebook here. Below are the details:
This beloved New York institution must not go down without a fight. Let your voice be heard--and have some matzo (or brisket, or blintzes, maybe a nice piece of fish?).
Let the cafe, hotel management, and the tourists know why you're there. PLEASE BRING A SIGN OF SUPPORT TO CREATE A VISUAL IMPACT. Markers, poster board, slogans: "Save Cafe Edison," "Polish Tea Room Forever," whatever's clever.
Have lunch, make some noise, get connected with other concerned and pissed off New Yorkers. Take photos--tweet and Instagram with hashtag #SaveCafeEdison. Do those Foursquare and Swarm check-in things, too. Spread the word!
Cafe Edison is located at 228 W 47th St., between 7th and 8th Aves.