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Life Cafe, a yoga scene landmark, shuts its doors


The newly shuttered East Village eatery, frequented by artists and made famous by RENT, was also the birthplace of the New York City yoga scene 30-plus years ago.
Life Cafe
(Photo: Gothamist.com)

After more than three decades of serving neighborhood artists, the famous Life Cafe on Avenue B closed this week.

The indie cafe attracted mainstream fame after RENT was a huge Broadway hit—Jonathan Larsen sat at its tables as he worked on the play and then gave it a lead role as the setting for “La Vie Boheme.”

But in addition to being a bastion of creativity, the cafe was also the birthplace of the contemporary New York yoga scene, literally giving life to a movement. And giving jobs to fledgling yogis.

Cafe co-owner David Life discovered yoga in the early ’80s because he had a crush on a waitress: Sharon Gannon. And the seeds of Jivamukti were planted.

Seane Corn, now known worldwide for her yogic activism, also would have been spotted carrying a tray at the corner spot. (She always displayed an excellent sense of balance.) And Eddie Stern, founder of Ashtanga New York, was a delivery boy.

According to the Life Cafe website, the legendary eatery is closing for building repair, but owner Kathy Life anticipates a rebirth of the restaurant sometime soon. “Because,” she writes, “Life is worth Loving.”

Meanwhile, the Bushwick outpost remains open, which kind of makes sense. The cafe’s intended creative class clientele haven’t been able to afford the East Village for years, and the artist lofts of newly invented “East Williamsburg” (in realtor speak) is probably where they all went.

Expect a few yoga studios to follow.

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Jo Encarnacion Next Gen of Wellness

The holistic health coach who’s proving you can be a mom *and* prioritize self care