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Patrons at the counter

Neil Simon memorialized the cafe in his Play “45 Seconds From Broadway”

The story of the two men who first opened the Cafe’ Edison and the hotel in Times Square is the stuff Broadway plays are written about. Cafe’ Edison’s Harry Edelstein and the Edison Hotel’s original owner, Ulo Barad, met in Warsaw–both survivors of the Holocaust.  The rental agreement between the two men for the cafe consisted of a handshake between two good friends.  The cafe’ never had a real lease.  Although the cafe’ and hotel are still in the hands of the same two families, that relationship came to an end this past weekend.

Even though the Cafe' will close this weekend, the Save Cafe' Edison is still prominently displayed in the window

Even though the Cafe’ will close this weekend, the Save Cafe’ Edison poster is still prominently displayed in the window

Frequented by Broadway producers, performers, playwrights and tourists over the past 34 years, the cafe is located in what was the hotel’s former ballroom. Patrons dine on matzo ball soup, pastrami and blintzes, just a few of the many specialties served up by this old-time, very affordable Eastern European Jewish Diner.  Times Square didn’t look like it does today when they opened their doors. In spite of Times Square’s seedy appearance, the Cafe’ Edison was certainly known as the fanciest diner in New York.

The cashier is in the center of it all - opposite the open doors leading to the hotel

Having just received their eviction notice six weeks ago, the cafe’ must close by December 27th

An eviction notice was given to the cafe about six weeks ago, indicating that they would have to be out by December 27th to make room for an upscale dining establishment.  Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York broke the news to the general public November 7th online.  The news was a shock to the Strohl family, who own the cafe and have been in that space all these years based on that handshake.

Guests checking in to the Hotel Edison can see posters and signs in all the windows

Guests checking into the Hotel Edison have been greeted of late by protestors of all kinds 

This last weekend has given them a packed house

Long-time patrons associated with Times Square and the Theatre District have rallied to Save the Edison Cafe’

Since receiving the eviction notice, social media has been on fire.  Protests, lunch mob rallies, letters, posts on Facebook and Twitter, petitions with over 10,000 signatures, and even a Holiday Caroling Rally have prevailed– all in the hopes of stopping the ‘Blintzkrieg’.

Conrad Strohl, owner of the Edison Cafe' greets a constant stream of patrons.  Above the doors you will see rows of foreign currency that had been left at the tables over the years. To the left is an open door leading into the hotel lobby. To the right, the door leading to 47th Street.

Conrad Strohl, owner of the Edison Cafe’ greets a constant stream of patrons. Above the doors you will see rows of foreign currency that had been left at the tables over the years. To the left is an open door leading into the hotel lobby. To the right, the door leading to 47th Street.

Framed clippings from newspapers and magazines about the historic cafe

Framed clippings from some of the biggest names in Theatre

Beautifully maintained vintage interior walls, ceilings and lighting fixtures

Beautifully maintained vintage interior walls, ceilings and lighting fixtures from what use to be the hotel ballroom

Ceiling in the front room at the historic Cafe' Edison

Ceiling in the front room at the Cafe’ Edison

A collection of foreign currency left on tables over the years, saved and on view near the entrance

A collection of foreign currency left on tables over the years, saved and on view near the entrance

Despite the best efforts of all their patrons, the battle was lost and the diner closed on Sunday. A documentary about the cafe is in the works. Although Cafe’ Edison doesn’t currently have their own website, they plan to have one up and running very soon and ask us to stay tuned for news of a new location, hopefully nearby.  Perhaps it will be renamed after its nickname, The Polish Tea Room.  Either way, we look forward to the Theatre Special Sandwich and the Hot Roumanian Pastrami again in the near future.

Pondering the menu before going in - a street view of the Cafe' Edison, next to the Hotel Edison

Pondering the menu before going in – a street view of the Cafe’ Edison, next to the Hotel Edison

You can contact the author at AFineLyne.

 

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