The deaths of giants will not let me rest. Last week, I felt compelled to report on the demise of 107-year-old Carmine's. This week, it's Fedora, the ineffable living museum of mid-century Village life.
This is not surprising. Not because fancy restaurateurs have been circling the place like vultures for months. But because proprietress Fedora Donato is 90 years old and it's always been clear she had no successor to take over. The lucky inheritor of the cozy basement space—so redolent of memories of cheap, bohemian, Italian feasts of the post-War period—is Gabe Stulman of Joseph Leonard. (We can thank our lucky stars it wasn't Graydon Carter, I suppose.) He has signed the lease, and Fedora will serve her last lasagna on July 25. Then the place will under a renovation, no doubt scrubbing from the walls every bit of raffish charm.
Stulman says he means to retain many of the interior's design aspects and the name of the place. And, like McNally's conversion of the Minetta Tavern, the result may be very nice indeed, even if Stulman intends it to be a "casual elegant supper club." (Uh! Was Fedora every any of those things, besides casual?) But it won't be Fedora. How could it? Fedora won't be there. And the lady was always the heart of the eatery.
But I guess we can be thankful the old bar will remain. And maybe the telephone booth. And the great neon sign.
One weird note: the new Fedora will stay open until 4 AM, every night. Interesting.
Fedora was my second "Who Goes There?" column. I may pay one last visit before it goes.