GREENWICH VILLAGE — Longtime regulars and neighbors of Caffe Dante can barely stomach the news that the 100-year-old family-run eatery is being replaced by a trendy share-plates restaurant with a raw bar.
"They’ll probably still be like a cafe during the day," speculated 30-year Dante regular Danny Bellino, 51, sitting at his new favorite local coffee joint, Once Upon a Tart on Sullivan Street. "Otherwise they’re not going to get many people, I don’t think."
"That’s just my prediction," Bellino added, looking a bit crestfallen. "I never thought the place would close."
Reached by phone, retired philosophy professor Nanette Funk, another longtime Caffe Dante customer, said the new restaurant coming in is "like losing a part of the Village, not only losing Dante."
"The kind of place that’s coming in is so antithetical to the kind of place that Dante was," Funk, 73, said. "It’s all this, what we used to call a ‘yuppie' kind of place."
New Yorkers also kvetched on social media, shuddering at the new venture's "seasonal flatbreads," preemptively declared the restaurant "boring," and sarcastically noted the abundance of small-plate restaurants in New York City.
I *like* flatbreads and I think "seasonal flatbreads" is the worst thing ever. Also, bye Caffe Dante. http://t.co/sWdYk6XyWt— Sarah Weinman (@sarahw) March 25, 2015
Caffe Dante to be replaced by small plates restaurant, because there's a shortage of those in NYC http://t.co/6JIhVL7SoI— Brent Lang (@BrentALang) March 25, 2015
A blogger who goes by the pseudonym Jeremiah Moss and is leading a campaign to protect small businesses in New York City declared the new restaurant "worse than we thought" Dante's replacement would be.
What's coming to Caffe Dante is worse than we thought. http://t.co/EfJeo7vWGP— Jeremiah Moss (@jeremoss) March 25, 2015
And New York Magazine's Grub Street blog decried it as "unbearably trendy," accused the new owner of using "every restaurant buzzword imaginable" in his application to the Community Board 2 liquor license committee, and asked in a parenthetical aside: "Where's the bone broth? What's the game-plan for ramp season?"
Bellino noted that the restaurant's plan to have a raw bar isn't a bad idea, though, business-wise. Their next-door neighbor, The Mermaid Inn, has a daily $1 oyster happy hour that Bellino said is extremely popular and often overcrowded.
"They can get the spill-off from something like that, if [people] go there and can’t get in," Bellino said.