Cafe and poetry are an appetizing couplet on Bowery


By Cynthia Romero

Miladys Ramirez remembers not having a place like the Lower East Side Girls Club to go to when she was a youngster growing up in the neighborhood.

The mother of three — who now works as a manager at the Celebrate Cafe located inside the Bowery Poetry Club — remembers the first time she heard about the Lower East Side Girls Club.

“It all started when I was looking for somewhere my daughters could hang out during the day,” she said. “We found out about the club and they’d come home and tell me how much they loved going there. Soon after, I got involved.”

Ramirez and her daughters participated in the leadership program at the Lower East Side Girls Club, which provides teenage girls with job training and skills they can use in their future careers.

“We really want to give these girls the hands-on experience of what it’s like to have a job. So we train them with the skills necessary, so that they gain a sense of self and pride,” said Sierra Fromberg, the club’s volunteer and program coordinator.

“The cafe has been open for about five months now, but we officially had our soft opening for it in June,” Fromberg said. “Our goal here is to really have a place where people can come in and feel like they are at home, while supporting a great cause at the same time.”

Inside the cafe is the Dorothy Day Community Table, on which people can dine, and wall art, including a permanent sculpture installation by Karl Mann and a collection of poets painted on paper plates by Ilana Simon.  

On the outside of the cafe is a neon sign that reads, “Eat Here, Not There,” which lures passersby — like Lower East Sider Joanna Ruperts — to stop and support a local business.

“At first, I thought the Bowery Club had closed,” Ruperts said. “But I came in and saw this cute cafe and soon found out that they make everything themselves, and I really liked that.”

The cafe’s relationship with the Bowery Poetry Club is what has made it an ideal place to unwind for some.

“I think it’s really cool whenever I come here on my break,” said Joseph Beller, another satisfied customer. “I can drink my tea and also catch a bit of improv of whatever poets or musicians are practicing onstage. I prefer coming here than any other place because of the atmosphere, honestly.”

The cafe sells a variety of locally grown organic foods, fair-trade coffees and teas, grilled sandwiches, farmers’ market salads, fruit pies, organic hot dogs, popcorn and more.

The cafe is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For more, information, visit www.girlsclub.org/store .