Fran Lebowitz photograph by Kelly Klein


I always loved Cafe Lebowitz; fondly recalling it as warm, chill bistro food (on the corner of Spring and Elizabeth).  Have some respect, please. Brian McNally helped co-found the Odeon. It was one of the New York last establishments, keeping attune with a writer’s credo, where you could still smoke a butt.

The New Yorker (2003) writes up a witty review, “The food at Café Lebowitz may arrive bystro, but the high-spirited, talky clientele eats medlenno (slowly), basking in the conviviality of their surroundings and in the satisfactions of their dinner. Until this month, these included tobacco. McNally named his restaurant after his friend Fran Lebowitz, the writer and ardent smoker, but now their “Café Lebowitz”-stamped Zippos must be retired. “I think it’s madness,” McNally says. “All the staff here smoke.” And so do most of the habitués. “Clearly, if this were the will of the people, the smoking would go on.”

Keith McNally sold it to some Bungalow 8 types and it’s never been the same. Never.

Sadly, there is not ONE photo via the web of this institution, however, I will find one.  I know I have one of their matchbooks.