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Cafe Lalo, Dessert Spot From 'You've Got Mail,' May Close

By Emily Frost | February 15, 2016 7:11am
 Cafe Lalo is too noisy, residents living on the block said.
Cafe Lalo is too noisy, residents living on the block said.
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Flickr/Cameron Yee

UPPER WEST SIDE — Cafe Lalo, the dessert bar on West 83rd Street made famous by its cameo in the 1998 Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks romantic comedy "You've Got Mail," has hit a rough patch and may have to close, according to sources.

The 28-year-old cafe sits on West 84th Street, a brownstone-lined block between Broadway and Amsterdam avenues. Cafe Lalo serves all-day brunch on weekends, sandwiches and salads everyday, as well as cheeses and late night snacks, but its primary focus is on dessert, with 70 different types of cakes and cheesecakes and 19 different flavors of pie.

"You've Got Mail" fans touring all the Upper West Side spots from the movie head here, and it's known as an after-theater and date-night spot. 

But lately these patrons just aren't enough, according to a Community Board 7 member who spoke with owner Haim Lalo. Lalo did not return requests for comment.

"He said business is terrible and he may have to close," George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero, the co-chair of Community Board 7's Business and Consumer Issues Committee, told his colleagues at a meeting this week. The committee manages issues with local businesses and restaurants, among other things.

But Lalo "doesn’t want to close too soon or get out of business," said Zeppenfeldt-Cestero.

Adding to Lalo's troubles, the restaurant's late night hours —it stays open until 2 a.m. on most weeknights and Sundays and until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights — have irked residents sharing the block.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal’s office has recently fielded calls from several residents living on Cafe Lalo’s West 83rd Street block about loud live and amplified music, loud customers hanging out outside late at night, and idling delivery trucks.

Rosenthal’s office has been following up with the manager of the café about these quality of life issues, a spokeswoman said. 

The cafe's European-style floor-to-ceiling front windows, which open onto the street, as well as its outdoor benches, may be to blame, said board member Marc Glazer.

"That’s not a rowdy place. It’s just loud," he said. The cafe also has live music, another factor in the noise levels, Glazer noted. 

Board members said they were surprised the cafe wasn't doing well, but then again, no one on the committee has eaten there recently either, they said. 

Here's the "You've Got Mail" scene with Cafe Lalo:

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