Monday, February 16, 2015

Caffe Dante

VANISHING

A year ago, I shared the unsettling news that Caffe Dante would be closing--and then reopening--after 99 years on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. They did just that, reopening in May with a renovated look. It wasn't the same, but it was still Dante, still run by the Flotta family, Mario Jr. and Mario Sr., who took the place over in 1971.

Now, in the year of its 100th birthday, we hear Caffe Dante will really be closing.

UPDATE: The owner of Caffe Dante says the rumor is a false alarm and "We're going to be here for a while yet." Let's hope that's true.

UPDATE TO THE LAST UPDATE: The rumor was true. They sold and closed.



A reader wrote in that "Caffe Dante is no longer." The owners tried to make it work, to refashion the business and keep up with a doubled rent from their landlord, but in the end they sold the business--likely to a group of Australians.

The new owners reportedly plan to keep the Dante name, "not out of respect to this great business, but so they can keep the existing licenses."

The tipster says the cafe will be closing in 10 days.



I called Caffe Dante and, while I was unable to reach either of the Marios, I talked to a couple of employees. They, too, have heard that closure is coming soon, maybe in two weeks. And while there seems to be some uncertainty about the details, it does sound like this is the end.

So, before Dante is serving Vegemite sandwiches, get your last cappuccinos soon, and say goodbye to an authentic piece of Greenwich Village that's been going strong since 1915.



Previously:
Dante to Close
Dante Returns


19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hasn't been the same since they renovated and fired Ada, the long time beautiful waitress there-but to see it gone will be shocking.

Anonymous said...

Devastating..

MichaelH said...

Why don't we 'reach out' to the 'management company' a/k/a the (corporate) bastard landlords who cant wait to flip it for a few thin dimes at the expense of one of the City's historic neighborhood strongholds. Someone post who they are. Let's give them a collective piece of our minds, We need a young Vito Corleone to 'reason' with them as he did down the street, with the landlord and Don Fanucci like the scene Godfather 2. LOL. Financial pirates are killing this country. Very pathetic and unnecessary.

Richard Federico said...

I think there are a few sad reasons at play causing Caffe Dante's official departure. 1) Relocating is tough and is almost like starting over. 2) Rent is still double which is an added insult. 3) There are so many chain cafes now that competition is insane! 4) Coffee shops now are very trendy and they make a big to-do about coffee and for this they can charge a small fortune for a Caramel mocha latte frappe. 5) Caffe Dante is an old school coffee shop where neighborhood people would come to sit and chat WITH EACH OTHER while sipping a realistic cup of cappuccino. The coffee was good, but more importantly, it was the sense of community. 6) There is no more community, only the ritual of drinking a trendy cup of decadent caffeinated sludge while everyone is plugged into their own electronic pacifier of choice. 7) the only criteria sure to be successful with today's sheep is universal brand name recognition and the place has to look clean and like everything is brand new. 8) Thank you for serving real New Yorkers for 100 years Caffe Dante! Lets see if Starbucks or Au Bon Pain can be trendy for that long!

xpicassox said...

MAY Be Another CAFFE DANTE Some Day !!! Of course this is very sad news. I've been going to Caffe Dante almost everyday since 1985 . This one of New York's great and historical cafes .. If we lose Caffe Dante and any other cafes like it, all we're going to be left with, are F-ing Starbucks. Now that's really sad .. I'm a good friend of Mario's and happen to know that he bought the building around the block on Bleecker Street just in case a day like this came, the rent being raised so high, that he'd move Dante around the corner and into the building he owns. That was about 10 years ago when he bought the building and has since least the space to the place that is Montadilos, a Spanish Sandwich and Tapas Bar. Possibly when the lease is up there or that place goes out of business, maybe one day Caffe Dante would open around the block there on Bleecker Street, but I really doubt it, though it is possible.

Daniel

12truck said...

In an instance such as this, a good tactic would be to publicize the closing and urge loudly that any business taking over the spot be boycotted. If enough people pledge to the boycott, the landlords might - just might - reconsider if potential new tenants are aware of such deep resentment from potential customers/patrons. Media coverage, word-of-mouth, posters and flyers distributed throughout the Village and surrounding neighborhoods would be a good place to start.

Abby Winters said...

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie...

Cory Seamer said...

I loved the vibe of the original Cafe Dante. It's a sad day when New York City institutions are forced to close. With the constantly rising rents this phenomenon seems to be happening far too often. I wonder if New York's sense of place will survive or if we will end up with almost every store front replaced with placeless corporate facades transforming New York into anywhere USA.

Anonymous said...

The revamp made everything worse.

Even the new windows didn't work—they were too high and cut the room off from the street; not as nice looking from outside either. Fired Ada—who is now at La Lanterna BTW, where we followed her--or she was last fall. Then added that hideous big screen TV giving the place a complete confusion of identity. And the food became terrible. Not even as good as a chain. Was the family even around? The Dante started to phone it in after the remodel.

Still—this just my spleen speaking, as I saw they weren't going to be able to save themselves. I think it might have fought back if it had become more Dante-like and less NYU student pleasing.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

What a shame to see Caffe Dante disappear. If the new place is Australian I guess it'll be a flat white establishment. Even Starbucks is trying to seem sophisticated (??) with a flat white pitch these days. Flat is about right for many cafes today. I love good coffee, but plugged-in-to-their-devices places are so disheartening. Coffee shops have a centuries long tradition of being places of conversation, the exchange of ideas!!
I still have some favorite places, but mostly I'll take my coffee to go.

Scout said...

They had the best chocolate mousse anywhere back in the 70s and 80s; about 10 years ago, it somehow changed to a bland variety. I don't know what changed (did they make it? but it?), but I stopped going around 2000, after a few disappointing visits.

Anonymous said...

Update this artice. They say they are not closing.

Anonymous said...

They say they are staying open. Jeremiah, you even are referenced! http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150218/greenwich-village/caffe-dante-owner-denies-100-year-old-restaurant-is-closing

Jeremiah Moss said...

I updated it yesterday. My information comes from multiple sources, and owners often deny this type of news until their deals are settled. It happened with El Quijote, too.

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2014/06/el-quijote-2.html

From what I'm told, this is not the end of the story. But maybe, seeing how beloved they are, they'll change their minds and we won't be eating Vegemite cannoli.

11:19 a.m. said...

DNAInfo just trolls this site and other similar sites and then they 'follow-up' on the stories that broke here first and then sends out their young female attractive correspondents that are newly transplants to interview the owners. See also DeRobertis's denial that they sold (out).

Anonymous said...

""Anything is for sale if the price is right"

It wasn't a denial; it was a confirmation

Anonymous said...

I was there the day the owner talked to DNA Info and denied the closure but that wasn't what the regulars were saying. I wonder if maybe the deal hadn't been signed and he started to rethink it after seeing the outpouring of support. The place was packed at lunchtime the other, and I have never seen it so busy. That might have got him thinking he should stick with it.

Angela said...

I have many happy memories as Dante's first "waitress" working for Oriano at Dante's in 1974. I had just returned from Europe and wanted to continue to speak Italian. I remember him making fresh Granita di Caffe and Granita di Limone with fresh espresso and fresh lemons. The cafe was only one room at that time and there were long fluorescent lights on the ceiling covered with red paper to soften the light. Members of the local crime "families" (men only, of course) would come in for an espresso and NO ONE would sit with their backs facing the windows! Then Alfio ran it forever and I remember when he died in his apartment upstairs, his mattress had thousands of dollars stuffed in it! There was another "members only" club across the street at the time and Tiro a Segno down the block. Somewhere I have a lovely B/W photo of Oriano, his head down and resting on his arms at a table after closing with just one light on in the background. Lost old Village memories; RIP Greenwich Village and NYC.

Anonymous said...

Caffe Dante shut its doors yesterday, Sunday March 22. 2015 ... A very sad moment as I watched my friend of 30 years Mario Flotta pull down his pictures of the many Celebrities that have spent time at Caffe Dante over the years. I had to hold back my tears when I said goodbye to Mario and he and his two sones Mario Jr. and Anthony locked the doors for the last time.

Daniel

http://greenwichvillageitalian.com/2015/03/23/caffe-dante-closed-after-100-years/