by Nick Garber
Harlem, NY -- After four years of Frederick Douglass Boulevard, the coffee
shop and bakery Cafeine closed its doors permanently Monday, another
casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Owner Kfir Ben-Ari told Patch that traffic had dropped by nearly 70 percent since
March, and that his landlord had refused to reduce rent even as business slowed.
Ninety percent of the regulars left," he said Monday, "Some new people came,
but it's very few.
Ben-Ari was also forced to close RDV-Rendezvous Harlem, his French bistro
several block south of Cafeine, back in May. The coffee shop first opend in
June 2016, on Frederick Douglass just south of 115th Stree. In addition to
espresso drinks, the cafe served fresh-baked French pastries and sandwiches
from Rendezcous. Last year, Eater named it one of the city's best coffee
shops for working, citing its counter space and airy, open storefront during
Ben-Ari said he expects to have a softer landing after the closures than some
other business owners--since the pandemic began, he's take another job as
a personal chef in the Hamptons, and was driving back to the city Monday
after a week on Long Island.
Based on conversations with other restaurant owners in Harlem, he expects
that he won't be the last to close down as the city races for winter.
'People are wondering whether to keep trying, or to move on like I did, '