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

warm weather.

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, '

he said.