overview

The San Remo Café was a Greenwich Village Italian restaurant and bar that became a famous Bohemian hangout in the late 1940s and ’50s.

It attracted a mixed Beat and gay clientele that had, among its most prominent patrons, many gay artists, writers, dancers, and actors.

Header Photo

Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2016.

On the Map

 
Photo Above

Gore Vidal, 1948. Photo by Carl Van Vechten © Van Vechten Trust. Source: Library of Congress.

History

The San Remo Café was a working-class Greenwich Village Italian restaurant and bar that operated from about 1925 to 1967. It was located on the ground floor of the tenement building at 189 Bleecker Street, corner of MacDougal Street.

Though mob-owned and not especially welcoming, it became a famous Bohemian hangout in the late 1940s and ’50s that attracted a mixed Beat and gay clientele with, among its most prominent patrons, many artists, writers, dancers, and actors. These included such gay luminaries as Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, W.H. Auden, Chester Kallman, Harold Norse, John Cage, Larry Rivers, Frank O’Hara, Montgomery Clift, and Merce Cunningham. One of the San Remo’s most famous legends is Vidal picking up Jack Kerouac here, and taking him to the Chelsea Hotel for sex.

The online blog The Last Bohemians indicates that by 1960 the San Remo had a mostly gay clientele, with hustlers from nearby Washington Square, and that “Andy Warhol loved the Remo, and stocked his early Factory with men he found at the bar.” It closed in 1967.

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