Curtain Closes on Cafe des Artistes

The French restaurant was noted for its nude murals, old world charm

Dan Chusid

Cafe des Artistes, one of New York's oldest and most legendary restaurants, has shut its doors citing the economy and a union lawsuit.

The French restaurant is known as much for its 36 nude murals as its cuisine and old world elegance. 

The cafe was in the lobby of Hotel des Artistes. The part Gothic, part Tudor revival co-op building designed by George Mort Pollard was opened as artists' studios in 1916. The restaurant opened a year later.

The restaurant had closed on Aug. 9 for a monthlong vacation and was to reopen Sept. 14. But on Friday, facing steady losses and a union lawsuit, its owners made what they described as a wrenching decision to close the landmark cafe on West 67th Street for good, the New York Times reported.

Jenifer Lang, whose husband, George, has owned the restaurant since 1975, calls it "a death in the family." 

It is unclear what will become of the space, or the murals, all of which belong to Hotel des Artistes, Lang said.
Bill Granfield, president of Local 100 of Unite Here, says the restaurant had fallen behind on its payments for medical insurance and welfare funds.  T

The wall paintings featured 36 nymph-like nudes, with just one man, possibly modeled after the actor Buster Crabbe.

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