Thursday, August 3, 2017

Riviera Cafe

VANISHING?

Sad news for yet another classic dining spot. Word went buzzing around social media last night that the Riviera Cafe in Greenwich Village is closing August 31. I've not confirmed it with the Riviera, but the source is credible.

Michael Musto wrote on his Facebook page:

"Riviera Cafe & Sports Bar is closing at the end of the month after 48 years. I recently plugged the place in the Post for its great al fresco people watching. I go virtually every Friday for dinner with Lynn Yaeger and I have the salmon burrito or the corn salad with chicken. I LOVE THIS PLACE and the manager, Jean. It has long been an essential part of a West Village jaunt en route to Marie's, Pieces, Hangar Bar and Rockbar. I pray some generic shithole doesn't go up, or worse a high rise."


photo: Wally Gobetz

The Riviera might look like just another sports bar, and a Boston Red Sox bar at that, but it's much more. A classic hangout for hipsters (the old-school kind) since the 1960s, this is where Lou Reed kicked John Cale out of The Velvet Underground.

More recently, it's been a comfortable and affordable spot, a place to meet friends, an oasis away from the usual ugliness that Greenwich Village has become.


12 comments:

RMAN said...

I lived in the village for decades and never been inside the Riviera - always thought it was too touristy. But I am sad to see it go.

twohusbands@gmail.com said...

To paraphrase Ada Louise Huxtable, Goodbye Hamburger, Hello (Vanishing) History!

MAR said...

Had many great breakfasts there. RIP I moved out of NYC 3 years ago. What's going to be left in the city? The city must look like a ghost town now.

Y Ddraig Goch said...

My first visit to NY in 1984, I was 20. Could drink in NY but not in NJ, a novel situation for a Welsh student who had been drinking legally for nearly 2 years in the UK & illegally for a few years more. This was my first or second NYC/US bar - very sad to see this news

Robert said...

Never a Village drinkers bar. Been there a long time though. Whoda thought it would outlast the Lion's Head?

Leslie Oster said...

I was an assistant manager at the Riv for three years back in the 80's....in the beginning, Daphne Rubin Vega was a very young aspiring actress who was a waitress there. I absolutely loved the Riv and it's owner, Norman Buchbinder. It was a very sad day when I heard Norman died; he had a heart of gold, was helpful to anyone who asked and had a great dry sense of humor. I can't imagine why it closed; I am not in touch with anyone related to it now that I have not lived in NYC since 2001. So many of my emotions and sentimentality are wrapped up in those years and that place. I used to supply the 2 juke boxes that played 48's and people would tell me they were one of the best juke boxes in all of NYC. It was fun scouring all the village record stores to buy rare records. My last year there they made the decision to go to CD's. I thought it was a bad decision, but I didn't have any say...the vending business actually owned the juke boxes. I miss those days like heck. It was a unique working situation and very pleasant for those who appreciated the work and got along with the staff. Many of the staff went on to do a movie or tv but no one got really famous other than Daphne....but every single one of those staff members were memorable for life. I am very deeply heartbroken over this and hope that whoever takes over the building has the integrity to keep it's nostalgic uniqueness.

Mraabit said...

Does anyone remember the days of Scopotone at the Riv? What was your favorite song? Mine was "Sherry, Sherry Baby."

Chris Samuels, Ph.D. said...

French Roast just closed too. Hope all the banks and drugstore chains start serving burgers or I'll starve!

Kevin G said...

This one hurts more than most. Always knew it was spring when the Riviera started serving outside on the first warm day..Whats next? Village Cigars?

West Villy said...

A sports bar in the west village? You could walk through the west village with the Yankees playing the Mets in the 7th game of the World Series and you would never know that they were playing. That's what the west village has become these days. No need for a sports bar.

As for the Riviera, that place has been serving terrible food with horrendous service for years. It's amazing it lasted this long.

Scout said...

Although I have a few fun memories of hanging at the Riv in the 80s, I have to agree with West Villy - it had become a scroungy hole of bad food, bad service, dirty floors, and dirty tables, with a clientele that seemed to be mostly lost tourists (on an extreme budget).

Yes, it was still relatively cheap, but I think that that's a very minor draw, in and of itself.

A restaurant can't survive solely on a faded reputation from decades ago. The Riv, sadly, long ago became nothing more than a faded shadow of itself (not unlike Musto, in my opinion).

Steve K said...

Hunter S. Thompson has a great story about getting kicked out of the Riv. In "Songs of the Doomed" see "Saturday Night at the Riviera"