Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mystery in Greenwich Village: The Riviera Cafe (UPDATED 8-9-17)

I came across this article about the closing of The Riviera Cafe in New York's Greenwich Village (a place where once upon a time Crystal and I stopped for a drink while waiting to meet our friends, Richard and Michelle):

I shared the link with my friend Richard and we got to discussing whether it's the same place that Bill Morgan mentions in The Beat Generation in New York (1997, p. 71) as a beat hangout where Kerouac liked to go in 1955 and his friend Henri Cru was the bouncer.

What gave us pause was the article saying the place was closing after 48 years. That means it was something else before 1969. This article and Morgan's book both note the address as Seventh Avenue South, although Morgan adds 225 W. 4th Street (which is how the place is listed on-line).

I noted that the name of the current place is "The Riviera Cafe," yet Morgan lists it as "Cafe Riviera."

So we have a date and a name discrepancy. And a minor mystery.

Can anyone confirm that this is the same place (location) Morgan references, and, if so, explain the discrepancies?


After I posted the above to the Facebook Kerouac group, Kerouac researcher extraordinaire Kurt Phaneuf replied with the following information that seems to verify that it's probably the same place with a small change in names. As Kurt says, perhaps management changed in 1969, hence the 48 year longevity reported in the article.


Monte said...

My Stepfather Edward Kelly and his partner Dick Kelvin opened up the Riv in 1964, You could call it either or The Riviera Café or Café Riviera, My Dad said that when they took it over it was a rundown neighborhood joint, I don't remember the name of the place that he took the bar from in the Village and put it in the Riv, for what ever reasons unbeknownst to me ,the first 5 years of the pace are never mentioned. There was a discrepancy with the landlord around 69, 70, and upon attorneys advise they did not do repairs to the building that was the landlords responsibility, in any event the landlord a guy named Ben Dov got the business and we were out, I always felt it was NYC corruption at its worst, Eddie just passed at 92 years old on July 2nd. He created a Village landmark, that became sacrilege as a sports bar in the Village and one for Boston, my God....BUT the beginning years were the Riv's best! RIP Eddie and the RIV....

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks for the info, Monte!