The gentrification of Lower Manhattan is over!
OK, that may be an exaggeration, but the Great Jones Cafe reopened on Wednesday, as scheduled, following a week of rampant speculation that the 34-year-old NoHo Institution had given way to the high cost of operating off the once-sketchy Bowery.
“We’re opening at 5 p.m., no changes except we painted the bathrooms,” owner Jim Moffett told us Wednesday. Moffet claimed that he shutdown the eatery for one week following a “very serious” hospital stay last month that prevented him from operating the place. When reporters called last week to check on rumors The Great Jones Cafe was going out of business for good, Moffett didn’t get back to them and rumor spread that it was an end of an era. Pix11 even sent a camera crew to the eatery last Wednesday to ask diners how they felt about that being the shabby-chic little joint’s final night of operations. There was a line stretching to the end of the block.
“This false narrative that we were closing spread like wildfire!” Moffett told us. He admits the eatery had fallen behind on rent, which is estimated to be around $ 12,000 a month, while insisting that was not a factor in the temporary closure. Moffett says there’s more than a year left on the lease and the restaurant remains on good terms with the landlord, who took over the building five years ago.
He concedes that changes are coming, including the ousting of a much loved jukebox they unplugged for good in March. That will be replaced by a service bar.
“I get that people miss it and it’s a nice novelty and all — but for 210 songs?” he asks. Moffett reasons that he needs to find a more financially sensible way to utilize that space.
“You can put 210 songs on a grain of salt these days,” he said.
Moffett also conceded the changes that need to be made to make ends meet lead to a recent staff exodus, thus causing him to take a more active role in the Cajun-style roadhouse he bought from its original owners in 1989.
Moffett also thanks the Daily News for being the only outlet to have correctly reported that the temporary closure had been planned and was not the end of the downtown institution.
“You got it right,” he said. “Thank you.”
Let’s hope we’re not doing this again anytime soon.
With Brian Niemietz