While enjoying my newfound freedom as a freelance writer, I have come to the conclusion that cafés are a way of life, the lifeblood of any town. Consider the impossibility of the Avant Garde movement had not the Left Bank of Paris been populated with cafés! Where would the Lost Generation abroad have gathered? Cafés nurture business as well as artists by providing a venue where for as little as a cup of coffee anyone can stake out a table for hours at a time, socializing, working, usually the two at once… which leads me to be concerned for New York: we simply do not have anywhere near the kind of Café Culture needed to retain creative types.
Cafés release us from the confines of our too-small apartments, provide a sense of community, and cocoon us with a sense of well being from simple, comfortable habits. It’s free office space, at its best an extra living room where you and all your friends know you can always meet. Café Culture means a slower pace of life where enjoyment of our single tour of this world comes first. It escapism, elbow room, breathing room, and a guaranteed pick-me-up.
There are a few bright spots in this city still: Choux Factory on 87th and 1st Avenue is a haven with wall sockets, free wifi, and plentiful comfortable seating. Their coffee is cheap and strong, and puff pastries filled with flavored cream fillings hold you over until you meander out to the rest of your day. More than any of this though, I love how the staff lets anyone sit as long as they want, the bathroom is clean, AND there is always a stack of old magazines to flip through when my attention flags from writing. This is definitely the exception to the rule as I find that New York has become too bent on making a profit, meaning that few places will leave you in peace - even if you are lucky enough to find a seat in the first place.