05 February 2010

New Landlord Kills Jackson Heights' Cavalier After 60 Years

Some fuckhead of a landlord (is there any other kind?) came into Jackson Heights, bought a building at 37th Avenue and 85th Street, and charged a rent so stupidly high that the jerk has forced the 60-year-old restaurant Cavalier to close after 60 years.

May the asshole landlord rent to a Dunkin' Donuts and choke on the first donut he sinks his teeth into. May he rent to a Staples and get fatal blood-poisoning from a paper cut. May he rent to the branch of a bank which immediately goes under in the next market crash.

This is a place where Louis Armstong sipped cocktails and Tony Bennett once stopped by. It was one of those once-essential neighborhood institutions that hosted, in the New York Times' words, "hosting Lions Club meetings, political victory parties, senior center dances and the annual breakfast before the Queens gay pride parade."

It's presently owned by Alfonso Londoño, who bought in in the 1970s from an Italian family. Tragically, the Times wroter, "The Cavalier had operated from the same spot for so long it had not had a lease for years, and Mr. Londoño said that he would have had to come up with a hefty security deposit to sign one."

On Sunday, there will be a Super Bowl party with a free buffet during halftime. “Then,” Mr. Londoño said, “we’ll say goodbye.”

Here's the heartbreaking (and true) letter the owner posted on the door:

To the loyal patrons of the Cavalier Restaurant:
It is with sincere regret that we must announce the end of an era. Due to the greed and insensitivity of developers, realtors and landlords, the Cavalier will be forced to close its doors after 60 years. This family operated institution has been an icon of the Jackson Heights community since 1950. For thousands it has been the place where families gathered for support and comfort after the loss of a friend or family member; gathered to celebrate the birth of a child, the wedding of two loved ones or to recognize the rights of passage of a child into young adulthood. It has been a gathering spot for families during holidays, a friendly and affordable stop for our seniors and a social spot where members of the Jackson Heights community came to relax and spend countless enjoyable hours talking, listening to live music and enjoying the diversity of our wonderful neighborhood. We would like to extend a final invitation to all of our loyal customers to pay their final respects, and offer a final opportunity to reminisce about what this neighborhood institution has meant to them. Similarly it will give its owners a final chance to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many years of loyalty and support shown to us by our beloved patrons. Please join us for our final farewell week before our doors close on Sunday February 7, 2010 which is Super Bowl Sunday. On Super Bowl we will have a free buffet at half time and a Coors Light Promotion from 6 to 8 pm for those who would like to watch the game with us on our final day! We hope to see all of you for one final opportunity to let you know how much you have meant to our family and to raise one final toast to the end of a Jackson Heights cultural institution. 
Sincerely, The Cavalier

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