First Colony Records and now they take our Chicken Soup???

It was two years ago (time doesn’t fly, it rockets by) that Colony Records announced it was closing its doors forever.  It was a sad day, of course, especially for those of us who shopped there as young actors (this guy) or those tourists who were looking for a signed Alf poster.

The closing meant the end of an era and the change in our industry (who buys CDs and sheet music anymore . . . and Alf?).

I’m sad to report that another era has has come and gone, as the famed Cafe Edison, with its monster matzo ball soup, will be closing its doors by the end of the year.

If you don’t know the Cafe Edison on 47th St., which occupies a corner of the Hotel Edison (which is undergoing a much needed renovation and therefore kicking out the Cafe in exchange for a “white-tablecloth restaurant with a name chef”), make sure you stop by at least once before it shutters forever.

Honestly, don’t stop by for the food.  I’ve never been the biggest fan of the eats (I still wonder why my OJ isn’t fresh squeezed but costs the same), but that’s not why you should go.

The Cafe Edison, or “Polish Tea Room,” as it was called, is one of the last remnants of old school Broadway.  It’s where the industry collected to close deals, celebrate hits, and gossip about flops.  (They even held the meetings deciding the Tony Nominations there!)  But what I loved about it was it was a teeny tiny room packed by every type of industry professional.  It wasn’t a Producer’s hangout.  It wasn’t a stagehand hangout.  It was for everyone.  And in our dysfunctional family of a business – that ain’t too easy to sustain.  But, if you know the history of the owners of the Cafe (read this fantastic article from Playbill about Manny Azenberg’s thoughts on the closing), then it’s easy to see why people wanted to be a part of their family.  Neil Simon even wrote a play about the Tea Room, called 45 Seconds from Broadway (which unfortunately only lasted about 45 seconds on Broadway and signaled the end of a comedic era on Broadway as well).

It wasn’t the prettiest of diners.  But it had characters . . . and frankly, it was a character, and will be sorely missed.

Pay your respects to the Edison before it goes away.  Because whether you ate there or not, it was within those walls that much of our modern industry was shaped.

My only question is . . . where will the industry get shaped in the future?



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  • Mary Illes says:

    It’s sad and totally unacceptable. Yes, things change all the time in NYC. But too much will be lost. It’s as bad as them tearing down the old Penn Station. It needs to be landmarked. I’ve gone once to eat there this week and will go again. Terrible.

  • Jon Reynolds says:

    I don’t know why with all your readers, you didn’t include this link to the petition. Regardless of if it can help or not, it’s worth putting out there. I live in DC, and I was up there two weeks ago and had a meal, came home and found out about the closure and went right back up to eat there again. Love that place, and I will miss it.

  • JM says:

    Countless times I have met up with friends @ The Edison Cafe. Also during OB Wonderettes I stayed at the hotel subsequently becoming a regular at the restaurant, sometimes eating there twice a day for convenience. I just can’t fathom this and I am terribly sad about it. Amazing memories…

  • Ron Emerick says:

    For more than 25 years I’ve been coming from Pittsburgh to New York City once a year for 4-5 days of shows and wonderful food. Most of the time I’ve stayed at the Edison Hotel, which means I’ve eaten in the Cafe Edison once or twice on every trip. I’ll miss the corned beef hash for breakfast, the shrimp salad for dinner, and the great soups for anytime of the day. One morning after breakfast I even got a chance to greet and chat briefly with a fellow Pittsburgher at the entrance to the cafe: the gracious and humble and amazing August Wilson. Yes, I have many fond memories of the Cafe Edison.

  • Melissa Bell says:

    During one of the rehearsals for Theatre East’s reading of Devil and the Deep, our Music Director Josh Freilich came up and spouted “The Edison Diner is closing!” Now I must say that his lament inspired no sympathy in me. The place had the same menu in the window for 35 years — literally the same one, laminated and sunwahed. While other restaurants listed Lemon-pepper crusted tilapia as the Special of the Day, the Edison proudly offered Salisbury Steak w/ Mashed Potatoes and Peas. Knowing my Music Director, he will miss those specials the most. Ah, the joys of fine dining.

  • Zanne says:

    It’s sad that NYC has a tendency to tear down its history. It’s why people visit (and stay) here. Thanks for the heads-up, Ken, I’ll have to grab a few friends and eat there – one last time.

  • Joanne says:

    Smiths … Colony … (I BUY SHEET MUSIC! Loved browsing the aisles for the latest show music, talking with an amazingly knowledgeable staff ) now to add insult to injury, the Edison….what will be affordable anymore? The cost of a theater ticket has well hit 3 digits for a decent seat (whatever that may be) …
    The unique flavor of the theater district is rapidly disappearing….did it start with Disney’s gentrification? Is it simply a matter of greedy landlords? Can ANYTHING be done to keep a day at the NYC theaters affordable and special for the middle class?
    And yes, I will miss the Edison terribly, you felt like you were in on the secrets of the industry while dining there, you were “in the know.” Set such a great tone for a night out. Too sad.

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