I was absolutely shocked when I heard the news: after 96 years, Frankie’s — a longtime staple of the neighborhood, a café that practically defines the South Village, an establishment that I totally would have patronized if stuff hadn’t kept coming up — is closing its doors for good. This truly is the end of an era.
You know, it’s funny. When a joint has been around for as long as Frankie’s, you really do start to take it for granted, sometimes to the point of never once going inside of it to purchase anything even though you’ve only lived two blocks away for the past three years. Everything about it just seems like such a permanent fixture of the neighborhood that you barely even notice it’s there: the royal blue awning with FRANKIE’S in bold white type, the high top outdoor tables, the chalkboard sign that advertised the café’s ROAST OF THE DAY until a few months ago when the owners changed it to say something about how their landlord was jacking up the rent and they would have to shut down unless they saw a dramatic increase in business.
And now, just like that, it’s all gone.
I actually still remember the first time I walked by Frankie’s and paused briefly without going inside. My roommate and I had only been living in the neighborhood for about a week. It was one of those brisk fall mornings that really makes you crave a hot cup of joe, so we went out to grab some from Dunkin’ Donuts, and on our way back to the apartment, he stopped me, pointed at Frankie’s, and said, “I think that’s one of the places where the Velvet Underground used to perform.”
“Wow, really?” I replied.
“Yeah,” he said. “Or maybe it was Dylan or The Beach Boys or something. I don’t know. I’ll look it up when we get home.”
We never did get around to looking it up, but I still made sure to tell every single one of my friends who came to visit a vague approximation of that story so they would realize how cool Frankie’s was and how cool I was for living so close to it.
I’m not sure what our neighborhood will do now that Frankie’s is gone. The café’s Open Mic Wednesdays that I would occasionally hear snippets of in my apartment before turning up the volume on The Handmaid’s Tale were renowned throughout the city, and its purple glass coffee mugs were iconic until they had to make a costly switch over to Styrofoam after I almost stepped on a shard outside one night and had my dad’s lawyer threaten to sue. Also, they didn’t offer complimentary Wi-Fi or soy milk, which I always thought was pretty messed up.
But hey, this is the big city, and nothing stays the same here forever. Heck, I myself have already had six roommates move out on me since coming to the neighborhood! So when a local business shuts down — even a beloved one like Frankie’s — there’s really nothing you can do except write a lot of social media posts about how sad you are, think about how they might have stayed open a little longer if you had made even one purchase there over the past three years, express some private regret about getting drunk and smashing in all of their windows with a baseball bat last Halloween, accept it, and move on.
Plus, this might ultimately end up turning out for the best. For instance, they could replace Frankie’s with a Peet’s. I’ve still got $6 left on a gift card there.