NEW YORK - The West Bank Cafe is a Hell's Kitchen landmark, where Joan Rivers played her last live performance and Tennessee William was once a staple. But during the coronavirus pandemic, it has fallen on hard times like so many other businesses in New York City.
Owner Steve Olsen says the bills have been piling up and with indoor dining once again on pause, the odds of the cafe lasting into 2021 aren't good.
"We went from being busy every night to being dead," Olsen said. "We were about to close and two of our close customers... came in to get food to go, saw that we were close to closing and they said 'we won't stand for this.'"
Outdoor dining gave some relief to the West Bank Cafe this summer, but it was short-lived once the cold weather arrived. Now, the cafe is pinning its hopes on a star-studded telethon that could raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep it open for when the curtain on Broadway once again goes back up.
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One hundred and forty of the Great White Way's biggest stars will host the virtual event beginning at noon on Christmas Day. All of the money raised from that telethon and an already-created GoFundMe page will help the legendary restaurant to hopefully make a comeback, bring back its staff, and look towards a reopening night.