John Lennon's New York hangout Cafe La Fortuna to close
In another sad case of fading city icons, we've confirmed that Upper West Side mainstay (and John Lennon's favorite neighborhood hang-out) Cafe La Fortuna will close this Sunday, Feb. 24 The rumor was first posted on Eater earlier this week. Here's our updated story.
In part, it's the usual New York story. According to the restaurant's Web site designer Elizabeth Halliday, owner Mike Trapani said after rents on neighboring businesses skyrocketed, he knew his building would soon follow.
But the place had also lost its "heart & soul." This note below from original owner Vinny Urwand, known among cafe regulars as "Uncle Vinny," tells patrons his wife and co-owner Alice died in January - and that piece of him went with her.
We first heard about the sign earlier today from a heartbroken long-time patron of CafÃ© La Fortuna (located at 69 W. 71st St.) and here's the proof.
The Upper West Side cafe was a favorite hang-out of John Lennon and Yoko Ono – and until early last year when Trapani gave it to Yoko, the couple's table was featured in a front window. The interior is still decorated with Lennon photos and memorabilia.
Randy Smith, a 50-year-old legal word processor, who has lived above the restaurant for 17 years told Urbanite a waitress first told him last week the cafe was set to close and then last night he saw the notice confirming the sad rumor.
“I’ve been going there for the iced cappuccino and chocolate Italian ice for 17 years. I don’t know where I’m going to go now,” Smith lamented.
Confused patrons saw the sign this morning before the cafe opened, and knocked on the glass looking for explanations. The cafe has been a stalwart independent in a neighborhood increasingly eaten up by chains.
"It’s like a boutique coffee shop, it’s not a chain coffee shop. It’s an Old World Italian cafÃ© where you can linger and talk and be surrounded by music and it’s comfortable, and when we lose places like that, the city loses a little bit of soul," Halliday said over the phone this morning.
She first heard rumors of the closing when a customer wrote a note to the cafe's Web site address, asking if the place was set to shut down - and then she called Trapani.
"He sounded very sad, like resignation," Halliday said. "He said, 'Things change and we have to change with them."
-- Lauren Johnston