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Reactions to Cafe Loup’s Potential Closure Show Just How Attached People Are to It

One novelist is asking billionaires to save the restaurant

Cafe Loup
Cafe Loup
Photo via Foursquare/Ric C.

Though Cafe Loup’s fate still hangs in the balance, New York’s literary scene has been crying over its potential demise already over the last 24 hours — showing the restaurant’s niche place in West Village and in the city’s publishing world.

The restaurant was seized by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and now owes $188,394.40, according to a rep from the department. Multiple requests for more detail to longtime owners Lloyd Feit and Adres Quinn Feit have not been returned, nor have emails to the management team, Harry DeBari and Nancy Hom.

In the New Yorker, writer Sadie Stein asks what an NYC without Cafe Loup looks like in her tribute to the restaurant. Open for over four decades, the bistro — though not known for its food — has nonetheless become a staple, particularly in the literary world due to its proximity to several publishing houses as well as universities. Stein writes:

It wasn’t one of those venerable spots that made your heart hurt because every visit could be your last. You didn’t feel you needed to keep it “secret,” if you were the sort of person who likes to hoard restaurants, and it didn’t have the obscure, ironic cachet of its neighbor, Spain. It was that much rarer New York luxury: a place that allowed itself to be taken totally and completely for granted.

The restaurant attracted celebrities and respected writers — including a recent visit from Fran Lebowitz — but folks on Twitter echoed the sentiment that it has remained unpretentious and welcoming through the years. It’s known for consistently big pours and laid-back vibes, an old-school style of neighborhood bistro. The stories pouring out over social media have been heartfelt and deeply personal, showing just how special Cafe Loup has been to those who frequent it.

To many, if Cafe Loup does indeed shutter, it will be the end of an era:

On a lighter note, novelist Mark Doten has taken matters into his own hands by demanding that extremely rich people — like Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, and Elizabeth Holmes (though her net worth is more questionable) — pay Cafe Loup’s outstanding taxes. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Photo via Twitter/Mark Doten

It has also been suggested that devout regular Patricia Clarkson take over. The actor, whose home is reportedly near the restaurant, is known to visit regularly; in a 2010 interview with the Times, she’s even photographed in the space.

The news seemed sudden, but sounds like writing may have been on the wall for Cafe Loup. In the New Yorker, Stein hints at some behind-the-scenes drama at the restaurant that predates the tax seizure, including the divorce of a pair of owners and a trade of hands for the business during which longtime servers departed. In March, rumors also swirled that a longtime bartender named Jay had been fired after four decades by new management.

Stay tuned.

Café Loup

105 West 13th Street, Manhattan, NY 10011 (212) 255-4746 Visit Website

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