FROM OUR ARCHIVES


MANDELBROT'S CHICKEN, or, THE ORIGINS OF SCIENCE


A BRIEF HISTORY


CHAR*IS*MA


BLACKOUT


OPENING


STARTING OUT


MANNA OF THE DAY


STANLEY


PRIOR EXPERIENCE


A BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE CORNELIA STREET CAFÉ

In May 1977 three artists--Robin Hirsch, a writer and director; Charles McKenna, an actor; and Raphaela Pivetta, a visual artist--stumbled across a tiny storefront on Cornelia Street in the heart of Greenwich Village and thought it the perfect place to open a café. For two months they scraped and sanded, plumbed and plastered, and did the intricate dance one does with the authorities who live beyond the Village, and on the weekend of July 4, 1977, mirabile dictu, they opened the Cornelia Street Café.

It was from the beginning an artists' café. Within a month there were poetry readings and music performances; and then a tiny play written for the café; and fiction writers; and Eskimo poetry; and puppeteers; and a living portrait of James Joyce; and the Four Quartets and the entire Iliad; and mime shows on the street outside the café; and comedians; and fairy tales and storytellers and Punch and Judy shows.

Over the years it has presented an enormous variety of artists, from singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega to poet-senator Eugene McCarthy, from members of Monty Python to members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It has offered a performance home to the Songwriters Exchange, the Writers Room, the Writers Studio, the Greek-American Writers Association, the Italian-American Writers Association, the New Works Project/Theatre, and many others.

Since those early days it has also grown. Upstairs there is a beautiful oak bar, salvaged from the Bowery and restored. There are three dining rooms, one with a working fireplace. And in the summer there is one of the Village's loveliest sidewalk cafes.

And there is a real kitchen, which has garnered all kinds of acclaim, including the 1998 Village Arts Award for "inspired cuisine."

There is also a performance space downstairs where the tradition of theater, performance, music and poetry is alive and well. As Mayor Edward Koch said in a proclamation celebrating the café's 10th anniversary in 1987, it has become "a culinary as well as a cultural landmark."



The Cornelia Street Cafe is owned and operated by founder Robin Hirsch, together with Judith Kallas and Bob Siegler. It is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch--and more than three hundred cultural events a year.