By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
New York's the kind of town where you run in and grab a coffee and leave the café as fast as possibleespecially if it's Starbucks. But if the folks behind Cake Shop have their way, you can run in, grab a coffee, eat a cupcake, shop for records, have a beer, and see a show without ever leaving the building.
ANDYand NICK BODOR of Alt.Coffee have teamed up with GREG CURLEY and LEILA RACHED to (finally) open Cake Shop, a new all-in-one indie-rock stop on Ludlow. Think Halcyon without the techno and the furniture, and with a basement bar area. Even though all four owners are from the East Coast, the place feels very West Coast. "We get Portland a lot," says Greg, who's never been to the West Coast. It reminded me of hangouts in Seattle, in particular the Sit 'n' Spin, a bar-laundromat-live venue.
They were supposed to open eons ago (I even wrote about it early on, causing a mini-internal ruckus), but a myriad of construction and plumbing fiascos set them back a year and a half. Now they open their doors at 7:30 a.m. to the five people stumbling over from Max Fish and the Dark Room. The coffee is yum (Dallis), and the cupcakes are so good Greg was seen licking the wrapping to get more frosting.
The upstairs coffeehouse and record store is very '70s, very you're at a friend's house playing foosball, eating chocolate, and listening to KISS records. It's got the wood-paneled walls and the orange-and-brown paint scheme. A bench in the corner has plastic slipcovers on the nature-and-deer-scene upholstery picked out by Leila. There's weird art by MU WEN PAN of Meathaüs comics on the wall. ("Don't stare at it too long," Leila says. "It'll give you nightmares.") Bizarre found objects decorate the multi-faceted venuea painting of a random, unknown blonde girl hangs behind the counter, and in the window there's a plastic deer wearing a wig (Andy's idea).
The foursome seems to have thought of everything, including the evil-genius trick of keeping the record store open until 2 a.m., while the bar is still open. I'd be afraid if a bunch of drunk people were pawing my merchandise, but they're more accommodating than moi. They've installed beer holders near the record racks to make it easier to go drunk-shopping. (The one time I drunk-shopped at a clothing sample sale, hundreds of dollars mysteriously disappeared from my wallet.)
Greg calls the selection "Kim's meets Other Music," but the staff is without the attitude one sometimes finds at such establishments. (They need more used merch, so bring your has-beens down.) KEVIN MCMAHON(Marcata Recording Studio) designed the sound system in the bar; Andy's doing the band bookings, though he's not sure if that's so smart ("I keep booking my friends and friends of friends"). ELECTRELANE recently had a record release party and DAN DEACON played. Future performers include AQUI and !!!'s side project FREE BLOOD. Greg described the music lineup as "subTonic meets Northsix."
They've been open a few weeks, existing on word of mouth. With the coffee, Wi-Fi, beer, records, live shows, and delish cupcakes from Umanoff & Parsons, they might soon have trouble getting people to go home.
One way to get people to stay forever: Have Mensa genius PRINCESS SUPERSTAR perform songs from her new album My Machine. Due at the end of summer, the 25-track concept record is a criticism of plastic-surgery culturethink Extreme Makeoverand was executive-produced by none other than ARTHUR BAKER of "Planet Rock" fame (why settle for imitators when you can get the real freakin' thing?), with more production work courtesy of JACQUES LU CONT, JUNIOR SANCHEZ, and ARMAND VAN HELDEN. That's more star power than a Hollywood blockbuster. The first single is "Coochie Coo." Gimme a cupcake while she sings and I'll never leave.