Yesterday, in my post about the past lives of Ludlow Street, I mentioned a bit of "urban folklore" about a rat that one night crashed through the ceiling of hipster Mexican restaurant/hangout The Hat and landed on a patron's table.
I stand corrected. The story is not urban folklore. It is true.
A reader, who was an eye-witness to the legendary incident, contacted me to verify the story. Laura Zambrano, who at the time worked at Todo Con Nada, the pioneering theatre space then across the street from The Hat, said she was sitting at a table with Nada founder Aaron Beall when the rat descended deus ex machina:
The "Rat in the Hat" story is true. I'm the former TD/house manager/light board op/etc of Nada and was sitting there, with Aaron Beall & some other people when it happened. The rat landed in the salsa, which splashed all over Aaron's glasses. Chico said we could have our margaritas on the house. Everyone thought it was pretty funny, especially since the rat disappeared into the kitchen...
Everyone had a good laugh about it for years. One of the ceiling panels had been removed and the poor rat fell through as he was scampering along (he was really huge, too). There was one other table occupied at the time, friends of Camden Toy, who had performed that evening. They wanted to know what happened when they heard our drinks were free. They were kind of pissed off that our drinks were on the house (not that a big rat had just gone running by). I think we told them to see if they could get the rat to come to their table.
That rat now lives in Jersey City, having been forced out by the high LES rents.