- Posted December 18, 2009 by
New York, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Economy Tracker: Your stories
How Life Cafe in NYC is Surviving the Economy
What will 2010 hold? mcintron will follow Kathy's story throughout the year.
- katie, CNN iReport producer
Life Cafe founder and owner, Kathy Kirkpatrick talks about the challenges and rewards of keeping Life Cafe afloat in today's economy.
Life Cafe is unique because in 1981 it originally served as the store front apartment and studio for Kathy and her husband at the time, who settled in the East Village from Lansing, Michigan .
On her website, Kathy tells the story about the play and later, movie, Rent and it's connection to Life Cafe.
"The basis of the story behind Rent is akin to Life’s story which is also a story of love, life and hope – and about rent! It’s a tale of how the tiny coffee house opened in 1981 almost by accident in the front section of the storefront that a young couple, Kathy and David, rented to live in and work out of. It’s a story about how quickly the cafe became an anchor in the neighborhood serving inexpensive food and drink while hosting poetry readings, performance, musical and visual art shows in the midst of the culturally explosive1980s East Village rock ‘n roll art scene. It’s a story that provides the answer to the question visitors to the Cafe are always asking, “How did this place get started anyway?”
The answer became the inspiration for the book "How Life Began, the Story of the Real Life Cafe", New York City by by Kathleen Kirkpatrick."
As stated, Life Cafe is located in what was in the 80's still derogatively referred to as 'Alphabet City', in the East Village. It was a rough neighborhood with a mix of punk bands, artists, local residents and drug addicts. How Kathy and her husband ended up there is an interesting story in itself; (Even how 'Life' got it's name is interesting). The Cafe went through many incarnations, going from an antiques store to a coffee house/performance space, to art gallery, to restaurant/art gallery, music, poetry/cafe which is pretty much what it is today.
But Life Cafe is also unique because Kathy is a woman running what is admittedly a very hard business to run successfully, a restaurant. She is doing so without a business partner and running it in the black. In today's economy and in New York City. This iReporter believes this fact alone is pretty impressive.
In this interview, Kathy tells us about 'Life' and some of the challenges she is facing today and her hopes for the future.