The pandemic has disrupted lives and posed huge economic challenges. Many businesses, unable to generate revenue, have been forced to shut shop. Here, we go down memory lane remembering some iconic spaces that have gone under from Mumbai to Manhattan.
By Shriya Roy
Copacabana, New York City (1940)
New York City’s iconic nightclub Copacabana ended its 80-year run and permanently shut down in May this year. The decision was taken due to a drastic drop in business. Copacabana opened in 1940 and changed its location four times in the past 80 years. The nightclub saw the likes of popular musician Harry Belafonte, the Supremes and Carmen Miranda perform during its long run. The club was popularised by the 1947 film Copacabana and was also the subject of the hit Barry Manilow song of the same name. Over the years, it also served as a setting for notable films like Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Tootsie.
Le15 Café Colaba, Mumbai (2010)
It was a tough decision for celebrity chef Pooja Dhingra when she decided to pull down the curtains on her famous Le15 café in May. After a decade of successful run, the owner and baker shared the news through a self-written article in travel magazine CNT. Opened in 2010, Le15 was a quaint cafe located in a lane between Regal Cinema and Colaba Causeway. The café, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in March, impressed pretty much everyone in the city with its macarons and delicious pastries. Some of the high-profile clients included actors Sonam Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, and producer Ekta Kapoor. Dhingra says the decision had to be taken as a result of the impact of coronavirus on the restaurant business. “Deciding to close our Le15 Café in Colaba is the hardest decision I have ever had to make,” she said.
Townsend Bakery, Birmingham, US (1993)
Townsend Bakery, located within Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, closed permanently on May 13. The bakery had first opened 27 years ago in a small space adjacent to the hotel, but it soon became quite popular amongst customers and patrons for its coffee, cupcakes and the enormous 10-inch chocolate chip cookies. It was the go-to place for the residents of Birmingham. The owners revealed that they had been going through a “very difficult and unprecedented time”, which forced them to take the decision. The bakery, which initially suspended operations in March due to the lockdown, could not offer takeout or delivery because of cost issues, said Steven Kalczynski, managing director, Townsend Hotel.
Southern Star, Mysuru (1987)
One of the most iconic hotels in Mysuru, Southern Star shut down permanently on May 19 after 33 years of existence. The decision came as a result of the losses suffered in the wake of the pandemic. In a letter to its employees, the general manager of Southern Star said the hotel’s management decided to shut it down, as it was becoming difficult to operate it. The hotel had been known to host celebrities such as superstar Rajinikanth and Bollywood actors like Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan during their visits to Mysuru. It also regularly hosted corporate events and literature festivals.
Lucky Strike, Manhattan, New York (1989)
One of the oldest French-American bistros by restaurateur Keith McNally, Lucky Strike in Manhattan closed permanently in April. The beloved SoHo restaurant opened its doors in 1989 and soon became a popular hangout spot for children, as well as adults and remained so for over three decades. The quintessential neighbourhood food joint for many, Lucky Strike was famous for its fries and burgers. McNally confirmed the closure, attributing it to the dismal financial situation and the lockdown. “Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 crisis, I was unable to find a way to make Lucky Strike work financially,” he said in a statement.
Paris Café, Manhattan, New York (1873)
After being operational for almost 147 years, Paris Café, one of downtown Manhattan’s oldest bars, permanently shut down in March. It had opened its doors way back in 1873 and had famously endured Hurricane Sandy, which had completely destroyed it. Sadly, however, the coronavirus crisis was too much to handle. The pub, originally part of Meyers Hotel, was more than a neighbourhood bar for its customers. On March 6, owner Pete O’Connell posted on Facebook that he had no option but to close the café. “Through no fault of anyone, but the outbreak of this virus, we are unable to forge a way forward that makes economic sense,” he said.
Full Circle & Café Turtle, Delhi (1998)
Full Circle and Café Turtle in the tony Khan Market in Delhi opened its doors in 1998. The aim of the bookstore-cum-café was to allow readers to spend time flipping pages while sipping on their cup of coffee. A second home for bibliophiles for over 20 years, the iconic store pulled down its shutters in May. Owner Priyanka Malhotra says they took the decision after multiple rounds of negotiations with the Khan Market Traders’ Association and the National Restaurant Association of India. “It surely was not an easy decision. It was a legacy and you don’t give that up unless things really get difficult,” she says. Malhotra adds that questions like how to maintain social distancing in a bookstore, manage the rent when there is no income and ensuring that the staff and customers remain safe forced her to take the tough decision.