Last night, around 7:00 pm, Cafe Edison shuttered.
Today: Photo by John Strano
Jordan Strohl, son and grandson of the owners, posted to the Save Cafe Edison Facebook group:
"The Cafe Edison has closed its doors. Thank you for our historic 34 years on Broadway! We are so thankful for our loyal customers and thank you for these past 6 weeks. It has been an emotional time period for us all but our customers carried us through this process! Thank you for being part of our family and thank you for all of your roles in the greatest show on Broadway!
Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank You!!! Stay tuned to the next act!!!
A reminiscence from the final days:
The sound of Café Edison when it’s packed with people is different from the sound of other crowded restaurants. Its cafeterial roar feels soft around the edges, a warm and steady hum punctuated by the clatter of silverware and plates, by the waitstaff calling out “One matzo ball! One chicken noodle!”
At other restaurants, especially new ones, the noise is sharp and shrill.
Maybe it’s Café Edison’s high ceilings, the way the walls curve inward at the top to enfold us. Maybe it’s the fur coats of dust draped along the chandeliers and plaster filigree that absorb the sound. Maybe it has something to do with the cherubs, dancing up there on feathered tails, alongside naked ladies who reach for platters of—what? Latkes in applesauce? Kasha varnishkes?
Or else it’s the clientele. The people in here are not like the people out there.
They’re hardly a quiet bunch, but no one is shrieking. No one is laughing that irritating laugh that says, “Look at me! I’m having an awesome time!” No one is falling all over themselves trying to have an “awesome time.” They’re too busy bending over bowlfuls of soup.
It’s a pleasure to watch the line of people at the lunch counter, each one balanced atop a swivel stool to lean into soup. A businessman flips his necktie over his shoulder to keep it from getting wet. A doorman removes his overcoat and drapes it across his lap, but keeps his cap on, tipped safely back. A woman encircles her bowl with both arms, holding a book in one hand, spoon in the other. Her eyeglasses steam.
I have to say, there’s something that never fails to move me about the arrangement of napkin dispenser, ketchup bottle, sugar shaker, salt and pepper. It’s my favorite still life, this luncheonette tableau. I don’t know why. Same goes for a stack of doughnuts under a plastic dome, atop a chrome cake stand, glistening in honey dip. (I think of that William Carlos Williams poem—“So much depends upon…”)
The crowd ebbs and flows. When the swivel stools empty again, the cafeteria’s owner makes his rounds. Walking the Formica length, he runs his hand along the countertop. He’s not wiping away crumbs; he’s caressing it—for the ten-thousandth time, for the last time—lovingly, with his whole palm, the way you’d stroke the neck of a good horse whose time has come to an end.
The moment only lasts a moment, and then the seats fill again for “One matzo ball! One chicken noodle!” The golden bowls keep coming. With spoons in hand, the diners lean into the steam, each one trying to hold the feeling. How lucky we were to have this place, this jewel box of a grand dining room, built for royalty and bestowed to the average joe. For a long time, it was ours. Now, before they take it away from us forever, one more bowl of soup.
News breaks about Cafe Edison's forced closure
Over 600 supporters come to our first of many Lunch Mobs
Local politicians and Mayor Bill de Blasio join the fight to Save Cafe Edison
Big rally and press conference at Cafe Edison
The last day announcement
Photos from the last day:
Press gathers around Mrs. Edelstein, photo by James Steeber
"The Blintz Grinch" at the register, photo by Elizabeth Shelton
Taking down the menu specials sign at night's end, photo by Davy Mack
Strohls, photo by Davy Mack