Owner Guts Life Cafe; Landlord Says Repairs Will Be Done Soon

The moving truck at Life CafeStephen Rex Brown The moving truck outside of Life Cafe.

Kathy Kirkpatrick, the owner of Life Cafe, was spotted moving kitchen equipment out of the beloved eatery this afternoon — the latest sign that her business remains in limbo.

Ms. Kirkpatrick, who closed down the cafe in September because of the condition of the building, told The Local she remained frustrated with her landlords.

“Significant work still needs to be done,” she said. “There is scaffolding; a pigeon coop with [crap] falling on the sidewalk; they ripped down my awning; no one can see the cafe; there are sloping floors; they ripped off frontage, exposing ugly brick.”

But one of the landlords of the building, Bob Perl, said that the repairs should only last around 45 more days. “She could have been in possession all through this time,” Mr. Perl said. “Construction to repair the building is ongoing right now.”

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope Life Cafe when it was still open.

In the meantime, Ms. Kirkpatrick was moving out fryers and other equipment, which she noted could easily be reinstalled should she choose to reopen. The Jonathan Larson bench, commemorating the seat where the playwright wrote much of “Rent,” has been moved to the Life Cafe location in Bushwick. The “Renthead” registers — sign-in books for die-hard fans of the musical — have also been moved to Brooklyn for safekeeping. Ms. Kirkpatrick said she was working on a memoir, “How Life Began,” about the start of the 30-year-old cafe at 10th Street and Avenue B.

Her landlord was hopeful the business would once again serve its vegetarian chili. “I’ve been supportive of her — I’ve been her landlord for 21 years,” Mr. Perl said.

A call to the other owner of the building, Abraham Noy, was not returned.

For now, the future of Life Cafe remains murky. The Bushwick location is, according to both Mr. Perl and Ms. Kirkpatrick, more successful than the original space. But Ms. Kirkpatrick is locked into a seven- or eight-year lease, and no one was working on the exterior of the building this afternoon.

“It’s just a situation that I don’t have control of,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said.