'Golden Girls' cafe Rue La Rue has soft opening in Washington Heights

🎼If you threw a party, invited "Golden Girls" fans you knew, you would see the best spot to meet would be at the new cafe Rue La Rue.🎼

“Golden Girls” devotees can begin making the pilgrimage uptown to Washington Heights, to sample Rue La Rue, which is both a cafe and a love letter to one of the show’s stars, Rue McClanahan.

The restaurant, which is now serving breakfast and lunch during a soft opening phase, is owned by the fortuitously named Michael J. La Rue – a friend of McClanahan’s who inherited her belongings when she died in 2010.

The show chronicled the friendships and love lives of three retirees in Miami: McClanahan’s saucy Southern dame, Blanche Devereaux; Betty White’s sweet and innocent Minnesota native, Rose Nyland; and Bea Arthur’s tough, sarcastic New Yorker, Dorothy Zbornak. They’re joined by Dorothy’s critical Sicilian mother, Estelle Getty’s Sophia Petrillo.

The space is decorated with memorabilia and homages to the series – the wallpaper and the bathroom tiling will be recognizable to any fan – as well as more personal items of McClanahan’s, like her upright piano. A television hanging above it plays episodes of "Golden Girls," and items on the menu are named with its characters in mind.

The overwhelming emphasis is on McClanahan – who also had memorable roles on “Maude” and “Mama’s Family,” in addition to turns on Broadway – but her cast mates also make appearances, as do photographs of her husbands.

“Rue said she was nothing like the character Blanche,” La Rue said. “So I put her six husbands up here so people could see she’s exactly like Blanche.”

Here’s a look inside Rue La Rue, which is at 4394 Broadway.

On your way into the cafe, you'll notice this tribute to McClanahan -- and "The Golden Girls" theme song.

The space will transport you to the Miami house the women shared. There's wicker furniture, banana leaf wallpaper and even the yellow phone used on the set of the show.

The yellow phone found in the ladies' home now hangs on the walls of Rue La Rue -- along with photos of it in action.


La Rue says this small stage at his cafe will soon host Broadway performers.

"We're going to see some big-name Broadway performers, but I'm not announcing it all," La Rue said. "They're just going to show up and belt some tunes."

The stage is also home McClanahan's Emmy -- and the dress she wore to accept it.

To the left of the stage, a mannequin wearing a gown of McClanahan's sits atop her piano.

There's memorabilia everywhere at Rue La Rue. This wall is adorned with everything from a Playbill from "Wicked" (McClanahan did a turn as Madame Morrible in the musical) to a script from "Newhart," all framed by scallop shell sconces.

It's not only about McClanahan -- her cast mates also make cameos throughout the space, including this homage to Bea Arthur.

The sole surviving "Golden Girl," Betty White, is also well-represented -- here with a note she sent to her cast mate. La Rue is hopeful she'll make it to New York in the spring (she won't travel to the city in the winter, he said, and who could blame her?) for a more formal ribbon cutting. He met with White, who recently turned 95, a while back and noticed a picture of White's late husband in a pink marble picture frame that McClanahan had also had.

"Without missing a beat, this 94-year-old woman goes: 'She better not have a picture of my husband in it.'"

A drawing of the four main characters of "The Golden Girls," mounted on wallpaper adorned with the banana leaf pattern from Blanche's bedroom.

Shoes worn during "The Engagement," the pilot episode of "The Golden Girls," are in a display case along with a script for the episode "To Catch a Neighbor," adorned with cartoons drawn by George Clooney, who appeared in the episode.

Chef Michele Weber came on board after previously working at Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side. She's serving up flaky biscuits with strawberry butter, beautiful fruit pies, and of course a cake dedicated to Betty White. In addition to pastries, the cafe is currently serving breakfast and lunch and will soon expand to dinner.

These biscuits and strawberry butter go together just as well as Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia.

Channel the girls and share some pie with your friends while you discuss the travails of dating. (Can you even imagine the storylines if Blanche had access to Tinder?)

A cross section of the cafe's Betty White Cake -- sprinkled liberally with coconut.

Visitors will also find cases full of pastries like the "Rose's Proposal Scones."

These "moist and delicious" cupcakes have earned Dorothy's approval.