A Union Square institution, Coffee Shop, served its final brunch Sunday with one last samba performance by Maucha Adnet, her trio, and a pair of roving carnival dancers. Charles Milite and Eric Petterson– who own the restaurant with Karolyn Effer, wife of music producer Jellybean Benitez— were on hand for the farewell, and fondly remembered a New York magazine story about the Brazilian diner’s opening 28 years ago. It noted “the late-nighters who’ve been thronging Coffee Shop and its secret room in the back–artists, actors and young models wearing black tights and gold medallions.” At the time, Patterson said he wanted the 23-hour diner to recreate the feeling of Brazil: “the sensuality, the music, the friendliness of the people.”
Since then, Coffee Shop has held on, despite never really being a foodie destination; its basement, once an after-hours party spot for ’90s cool kids, recently served as a chill-out zone for off-duty models during Fashion Week. And its outdoor tables were a dependable spot for leisurely people-watching. But back in July, it was announced that the restaurant would close. “The times have changed in our industry,” Milite, himself a former model, told the New York Post. “The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.”
We were on hand for the restaurant’s final hours, and got a round of applause from diners when bartenders Gia and Thompson announced that we had ordered the last hamburger. Click through the slideshow to say so long.