The Cornelia Street Café, a hub of the bohemian arts scene in Greenwich Village, has announced that it will close forever on January 2, 2019. The bistro's trademark bright-red exterior has been part of the West Village's rainbow since 1977, and the neighborhood will be less colorful without it.
Through the years, the Café has been a warm and inviting gathering place and incubator for songwriters, storytellers, theater-makers, musicians and visual artists. Eve Ensler's game-changing The Vagina Monologues debuted in the venue's cozy basement space in 1996. Tightrope walker Philippe Petit honed his juggling skills on a wire strung from trees. Suzanne Vega and the Roches performed there early in their careers; comedians including John Oliver, Amy Schumer and Hannibal Buress have worked out jokes there. To this day, the Café's schedule remains packed with jazz shows, as well as burlesque and storytelling nights.
But like many of the horcrux-like spaces that preserve the Village's soul, the Cornelia Street Café appears to have fallen victim to rising costs. In an interview last year, owner Robin Hirsch—one of the Café's three original founders—noted that the space's monthly rent has risen from $450 in 1977 to $33,000 today, a trend exacerbated when the building was purchased by landlord Mark Scharfman, who has a reputation for sharkishness.
On the bright side, we're sure this space will also be great as an ATM bank or pop-up nail salon or indefinitely empty storefront.