Locals Lament End — For Now — of Life Cafe

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope Life Cafe.

Dismay over the sudden closing of Life Cafe — an East Village mainstay for 30 years — swiftly spread around the neighborhood on Monday.

“You have been an amazing and supportive neighbor for so long. I hope you will be back. Thanks for all you have done for the local artists over all these years,” wrote one commenter on the cafe’s Facebook page.

“Please come back soon. You’re a NY landmark. Hate to see all your employees out of work,” wrote another.

One fan on Twitter saw the cafe’s closing as a sign of the times: “Life Cafe in East Village closed down, Mars Bar is gone, St. Mark’s Bookstore is reportedly at death’s door. The times are a-changin.” (Add to that: The recent renovation of another old-school al fresco spot, Sidewalk Cafe, and a revamp of gay fixture the Phoenix, which EV Grieve took a look at today.)

As Grieve noted late yesterday, the cafe where the musical “Rent” was written will be closed indefinitely due to an apparent dispute between its owner, Kathy Kirkpatrick, and her landlord. Apart from its association with the famous musical, Life Cafe was an affordable, low-key place to eat; an increasingly rare sight in the neighborhood, according to many longtime residents. It also helped add to the Village’s reputation as a “low-rent bohemian paradise” (back in 1996, of course.)

“I’m doing this due to issues around building repairs the landlords were supposedly going to complete one year ago,” Ms. Kirkpatrick wrote on the cafe’s website. “Until the landlords complete the repairs, I will remain closed.”

The Local spoke briefly this morning with Ms. Kirkpatrick, who confirmed that she hoped to reopen in the near future. The owner of the famous eatery has yet to get back in touch after saying she didn’t have time to speak further.

In 2008, Ms. Kirkpatrick’s husband said that the rent for the cafe was $8,000 a month, but that it could double when the lease was to be renewed later that year.