Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Noho Star & Temple Bar


On Lafayette Street since 1985, The Noho Star still has an old-school vibe that attracts low-key neighborhood people along with New York luminaries like Chuck Close, Wallace Shawn, and Lauren Hutton. The restaurant's sister spot, Temple Bar, opened in 1989.

Now both are about to vanish.

The owners recently filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) with the New York State Department of Labor, indicating plans to lay off Noho Star's staff of 54 workers and close the restaurant on December 31.

Under "Reason for Dislocation," it says "Economic." The same listing is given for Temple Bar--all 13 employees laid off and the place closed December 31.

Noho Star and Temple Bar were both opened by George Schwarz, a 1930s German-Jewish emigre who began his New York restaurant empire in 1973 with Elephant and Castle in Greenwich Village, followed by One Fifth (since closed). He then acquired and revived the great Keens Chop House when it closed in 1978. From there, he and his artist wife, Kiki Kogelnik, opened Noho Star and Temple Bar. They also bought the building.

Schwarz died not a year ago, in December 2016. His friend Bonnie Jenkins, long-time manager of Keens, is Vice President of the closing restaurants. (Jenkins prefers not to comment on the closures at this time.)

There are no indications that the shutter is coming for Keens or Elephant and Castle.

Eggs Idaho

Only in the past few years did I finally find my way to Noho Star. In a neighborhood of dwindling options, it's one of the last comfortable places to get a decent meal, i.e., a place that attracts a mixed-age crowd and doesn't play loud music (or any music) while you eat. It's a place where a person can dine alone, reading The Times (on paper) or The London Review of Books (as recently witnessed). It's a place where you can think.

I will miss it.


s said...


the last place to have a pile a newspapers in the corner for waiting customers

John K said...

One thing I always loved about the Noho Star, which I used to go to back in the 1990s with a late buddy of mine, was their natural ginger ales. They were a highlight. The food in general was always just so-so and a little too expensive for me, but I am sorry to hear they and the venerable Temple Bar are closing. Two more small, longtime NY businesses bite the dust, and all the workers are now going to be out of work. Why doesn't that news at least merit a response from the mayor, who was supposed to be the defender of small businesses?

mrnickcooper said...

Sad. I use to meet my father here for lunch on an almost weekly basis, from '85 - '00. His office was around the corner in the Cable Building. Over the years rotated between the Prince St. Bar, Fanelli's and No no. Sad that it will join the ranks of NY ghosts.

FlyOnTheWall said...

Things change. Everything is relative.

NoHo Star replaced a real old-school, greasy spoon coffee shop that catered to the denizens of the area of the time: factory workers and Bowery Bum types. And myself. It offered 50¢ coffees and a NY tradition, buttered rolls, something NoHo Star does not. So. NoHo Star was actually one of the initial forces in gentrifying NoHo. I ate there once or twice after the place changed management but NoHo Star was a little too precious for my tastes.

Btw, for the record, there was also an second Elephant & Castle in the South Village on Prince Street for years, where the Dutch is now.

Sir Real said...

You must try their Indian Pudding for dessert before they close...very unique & delicious!

Stevano said...

What was the name of the greasy spoon coffee shop that Noho Star replaced ?

TG said...

I work above Noho Star and Temple bar and it is like my cafeteria. I often sit at the bar and read the paper and have a quiet lunch tomself and then after a stressful day grab drink at the bar at temple. So many memories there. It will be a huge loss for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

" place that attracts a mixed-age crowd and doesn't play loud music (or any music) while you eat. It's a place where a person can dine alone, reading ... a place where you can think."

Thus the "economic" "dislocation". The VP most likely will turn both into yet another trendy restaurant, serving $30 flaming cocktails, served on liquid nitrogen to be patronized by the new Sohoians + Tribecans.

Restaurants, and "restaurants" ("food establishments that apply for full liquor licenses whose main item in the menu is alcohol), and gastropubs nowadays cater to the young (and affluent and beautiful), play loud music so that one imbibes more alcohol in as little time as possible and want you out there in 45mins. If you stay longer than 45 mins, reading or thinking or just wiling away the day, this is what you get -- "Will there be anything else?"... "Will there be anything else?" ... "Will there be anything else?".

Hey, they do have to pay that exorbitant rent.

Gone are the bistros and restaurants where you only spend a few bucks that could buy you space all day long sipping your drink, thinking great thoughts. Only places that one can have that experience are Starbucks or Private only club such as The Metropolitan Club or Parlor NYC.

Funny thing is, most restaurants, and "restaurants", and gastropubs, nowadays act as if they are a private social club -- you're a nobody unless you're a Chad or Thornton dressed like this with Leighton and Serena in tow +6 of their socialistas friends for an unlimited boozy bunch.

Welcome to New York --' it's been TayTayed for you!

Pauline Frommer said...

I got engaged at Temple Bar. So sad to hear it is closing.

Unknown said...

This is the SADDEST. In Noho, they refill coffee endlessly, let you stay as long as you want, and have the friendliest waiters and waitresses I've ever encountered.

You, Noho, will be greatly missed.

David Cohen, artcritical.com said...

This is so, so sad, really the end of an era, a nail in the coffin of old New York. This was one of the very few restaurants where there isn't blaring music, where you can sit and read. The food was wonderful, tasty and unpretentious. The ginger ale incomparable. The Temple Bar a site of so much mischievous fun for me. For years the Star was virtually my kitchen and dining room. First Angelica Kitchen, then this. Thank god the Great Jones Cafe managed to stick it out.

MKB said...

The Noho Star in turn replaced a dusty and old office supply store (where you could still buy V-Mail stationery as late as the Seventies) and NYC's worst restaurant. That restaurant was so bad junkies and narcs (back in the day when a narc disguise was a serape and a wig) were the main customers. Why was I there? It was also the cheapest and right around the corner from my place on Mott.
I am so very sad that the Noho Star will be no more. Lots of memories.

Rupert of Hentzau said...

There were TWO Elephant & Castles. One of them, down the street from me on Prince Street (catty-corner to the sadly vanished Milady's, across the street from Raoul's and Il Corallo), was my regular haunt. They served a "Salade Chinoise" with a hauntingly delectable dressing that was my favorite entree in New York. It closed and the Noho Star opened at about the same time, and Noho Star served a similar Salade Chinoise. But it no longer does so. The other Elephant & Castle never served it.

So from whom might I get the recipe for that dressing?

Ben said...

While I only visited the Noho Star a few times (never that impressed), I have a thousand memories of their other three places. Elephant and Castle was an early brunch favorite when I was a teen. Reliable, comfortable, omelets and tea.

One Fifth had a short run but a very New York Space.

The Temple Bar was a great scene. I was living with an artist at the time and they would all congregate there. Very cool wait staff. Very stylized. A nice room for drinking and conversation. Thank you for taking such good care of your customers all of these years.

MikeB26 said...

When my wife and I first moved to New York, in 1988, a woman I had been in love with in college met me for lunch at The Noho Star. The lunch was absolutely innocent, as has been our friendship ever since, but that didn't make it anything less than deeply, and sweetly, special to me—and even with nothing at stake, still a thrill.

Then, about a decade after that, Sam Pollard, Spike Lee's editor, bought me lunch there so I could pitch him a project. Nothing came of it, but I had cold called him from out of nowhere, and simply meeting me was an act of wonderful kindness. I was struggling so hard back then that, when he agreed to take the meeting, I sat in my office and cried in gratitude.

Ah shit. I'm weary of writing bitter laments for the city that’s gone too fast. I wish I could write a love letter to a city that’s still here, instead of one that has disappeared.

MikeB26 said...

And lastly there was Lee Nagrin who in 1988 rented my wife Jill and me a dimly, bare-bulb lit rehearsal space a half a block east of Noho Star on Bleecker St. By then, Lee was in her sixties, a large woman with frightened eyes and stringy gray hair who always dressed in a neck-to-ankles cotton gown that said at once, “I am a Tribal Goddess” and “What the hell? At my weight, it’s comfortable.” Yet to meet Lee, always somehow, was to meet her improbable beauty.
We had no idea, but Lee was a luminary of the Avant-garde theater. She had worked with Meredith Monk, Ping Chong and Eugene Ionesco. A year before, she won the 1986 Obie for her play Bird/Bear. In 1958, she was in The Blob with Steve McQueen!
I’m pretty sure Lee knew we didn’t know any of this, but she didn’t care. She knew who she was, and that we needed her approval more than she needed ours (not at all).
I’ll never forget the moment Lee said to Jill and me, “I have a good feeling about you two.” To this day I don’t understand why it meant so much. It was such a small statement. We didn’t even know who she was. But for years, I would think back on it and remember that I was in some way important, or one day might be.
For the play we were working on in Lee’s rehearsal space, by the way, Jill and I planned to grab rotting garbage out of Manhattan trash cans and throw it all over the theater. We wanted “to make the stink real” for our audience. It was August 1988 in Manhattan for Chrissakes! Like they needed a reminder!
Except in that haphazard, random incarnation of New York City, when the paths of strangers really did cross, I think Lee was like Sam Pollard: a person of great accomplishment who thought it was a mitzvah to encourage young artists.
I can’t express how much I wish I could meet Lee Nagrin one more time to thank her for the small kindness that meant so much to me.

Over the next few years, we transformed the ridiculous “garbage awareness play” into ‘The One and Onlys,’ a group of mentally ill actors who toured all over New York State for 15 years and ‘Theater For a Greater Peace,’ a project that brought together over 100 New York Blacks, Jews, Italians and West Indians to write and tour two plays about race relations in the wake of the Crown Heights riots and the Abner Diallo shooting. No internet. No forums. No Tweets. Just a bunch of people together in rooms talking, fighting, crying, laughing and hugging until they made something. Between them, ‘My Enemy, My Brother’ and ‘A Hidden Feud’ toured New York City churches, libraries and housing projects for more than seven years.
Lee Nagrin never knew that she was a part of that. But perhaps that was at the heart of her kindness and gentle power.

ed grazda said...

the NOHO star was never as good as the dinner it replaced, but was decent until it raised it's prices and changed it's menu - downhill from there.

bjs said...

There was also, briefly, an Elephant & Castle branch at #6 Bond St., up a few steps.
In those days (the mid-90s,probably) I had no idea where Bond St was--and I was working at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker!

Time Passes said...

Worked as a bouncer at Temple Bar, wow, 20 years ago now. Favorite thing ever was the woman walking by laughing at me that we charged $10 for a martini. Me laughing at her that she paid it.

Boodiba said...

I never really made a habit of Noho Star, but Temple Bar is really sad for me, even though I gave up & got out of NYC at the beginning of 2015 but.......

Michael N. said...

Interesting response and that’s really the problem with this page. The places that go out, always lamented here, have already replaced the cool places that were there before.