Former Lennon hangout closing its doors.February 22, 2008
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A coffee shop once frequented by John
Lennon and Yoko Ono is closing its doors Sunday, more than 30 years
after it began attracting customers in the heart of New York's Upper
Yoko Ono and John Lennon were regulars at Cafe La Fortuna in the 1970s.
Cafe La Fortuna was opened in 1976 by Vincent Urwand, his wife, Alice, and her sister.
The city was in the midst of its bicentennial, and the cafe, on 71st
Street between Columbus and Central Park West, quickly became a hangout
for dancers, actors and musicians from nearby Lincoln Center.
"The first years of the cafe were the most exciting," said Urwand, now
80. "Those first years were lots of good times. It was a very hot
neighborhood to be in."
Lennon and Ono frequented the cafe in its first years.
"John used to sit with me until Yoko
came in," Urwand said. "He liked the place because no one bothered him.
It was a very homey kind of place, and that was what he was looking
Lennon favored a table at the front as well as the back garden. When Sean was born, Lennon brought him into the cafe as well.
Urwand and his wife retired when they reached 75, passing the cafe on to close family friend Michael Trapani.
Alice Urwand died in January. Urwand said the cafe was really his
wife's passion: "I've been in the place 35 years, and I still don't
know how to make a cup of cappuccino."
A rent increase also factored into the decision to close, Urwand said.
"A lot of customers are devastated," said Trapani, "and we feel very
sad. But we are looking to go through the process and clear our
Customer David Wells said he has been coming to La Fortuna since 1981. "It's not like any place else," said Wells. "There's a lot more room, both physically and emotionally. This can't be replaced."