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As 51 Astor Falls, A Cafe Will Close

New York Film Academy Cafe at 51 Astor PlaceStephen Rex Brown The New York Film Academy Cafe is expected to close as developers begin demolition work on 51 Astor Place (below) in July.
51 Astor PlaceMeghan Keneally

Last night we told you that the demolition of 51 Astor Place would begin next month. Today, we confirmed what some have speculated: the destruction of the site will require the closure of one of the neighborhood’s only cafes with a large outdoor space.

The New York Film Academy Café at the corner of Astor Place and Third Avenue will be used as a staging ground for workers tearing down the six-story building next door, meaning the business will serve its last cup of coffee on June 30.

“A lot of our customers are really bummed,” said Jennifer Lee, 33, a cook at the café. “It’s a good spot. It’s rare to have a patio where people can lounge outdoors.”

Lee added that the majority of the six or seven employees still on the payroll were planning to go on unemployment.

But she bore her bosses no ill will. In fact, employees were told when the café replaced the Starbucks at that location last year that the job would be short-lived.

“They knew this was going to happen. They told us before the place was open,” Ms. Lee said.

A regular at the café, Lou Stoltz, said that he would miss the space.

New 51 Astor Place BuildingCourtesy of Sciame Construction Corp. A rendering of the planned development.

“It’s a great place to have my coffee, read my paper, do my Sudoku and just keep cool — like I’m doing now,” said Mr. Stolz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years. “There’s an outdoor and an indoor space, even a smoking area. No one rushes you out. I hope they find a comparable location nearby.”

Mr. Stolz, who lives nearby at 10th and Stuyvesant Streets, added that he would even miss the building at 51 Astor Place.

“I’ll miss it, it’s been here since the 1950’s,” he said.

“I wish they’d build something here more along those lines,” Mr. Stolz added, gesturing toward the Cooper Union building. “Something more in keeping with the neighborhood.”