The legendary hot spot in Greenwich Village, Le Figaro Café, is coming back from the dead with almost the same name and hopefully the same artistic vibe.
Seasoned restaurant man and former model Mario Skaric will open the Figaro Café (without the “Le”) in its original location at 184-186 Bleecker Street on the corner of MacDougal Street this spring.
“It’s going to be a tribute to the most famous tenant who’s been there and we’re going to make it more upscale,” said Skaric.
The Le Figaro Café opened in 1957 and became a major attraction under different owners until it closed in 2008. It attracted pioneers of the beat generation like Jack Kerouac and Lenny Bruce in the 1950s and early 60s, and later superstars Bob Dylan and Lou Reed and Al Pacino. A scene from Pacino’s “Carlitos Weg” was filmed there in 1993.
The revival is a morale booster for the village where the pandemic has wiped out dozens of beloved eating and drinking spots. The Bleecker-MacDougal corner remains lively, although the Figaro location has been vacant for six years. A New York Times blog post complained “The lost secret of Le Figaro Café” when it closed in August 2008.
The reason it stayed dark afterwards, explained James Famularo of Meridian Capital, who represented both sides in the new lease, was that the landlord received rent from the last tenant, Qdoba Mexican Eats, for a few years after the deal.
The asking rent for the new Figaro Cafe, which is 2,500 square feet on the ground floor and 1,500 square feet below, was $ 220 per square foot. When asked about the actual rent, Famularo said: “If a landlord is not extremely flexible today, there will be no deal.” He said it was about “a deep discount for the first two years”.
Skaric previously ran Manhattan’s Seafire Grill and Benjamin Steakhouse Prime. His new seat will have 120 indoor seats. But he noted that its real strength could be 125 foot sidewalk frontage from two sides of the busy corner, which should have plenty of outdoor dining regardless of when indoor dining can resume.
Unfortunately, no internal traces of the original Figaro have survived. “It was searched when it was closed,” said Skaric. But he hoped to add a “tribute” to it if he can find it, with original celebrity photos from his heyday and perhaps other artifacts.
“Overall, it’s going to be modern but warm and inviting with American cuisine,” he said.