For the past month, fashionable New Yorkers and art world connoisseurs have been streaming through a storefront at the 980 Madison Avenue building to pick up spotty souvenirs from a Gagosian-branded “spot shop” that was opened to coincide with the globe-spanning 11-gallery “Complete Spot Paintings” exhibition by Damien Hirst. With the spot show upstairs closing in less than two weeks, the Upper East Side may soon trade spots for espresso as Larry Gagosian is in talks with his landlord, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, to open a cafe in the space (call it Cafe Gilbert).
In an interesting twist, Gagosian traded spaces with lady’s fashion line Lisa Perry, who used to occupy the larger mid-block space Gagosian now controls. Her shop will open this spring on the northern corner of 980 Madison, where Gagosian ran a bookshop, which closed unexpectedly in the fall. It was shortly before then that Art+Auction reported rumors of a Gagosian restaurant (Chez Larry?) opening in the former Lisa Perry shop (its full address is 976 Madison), so this latest news jibes with the morsels Gago watchers have already been nibbling at.
Art+Auction reported that plans were in the works for “a retail concept called Art Market” that would also feature “high-end limited editions and coffee-table tomes.” (The abandoned safe in the basement of the current spot shop could also allow for some exciting decorating options.)
Representatives for RFR declined to comment and Gagosian Gallery declined to comment.
“It makes total sense,” retail broker Faith Hope Consolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman said of the hunger for more eateries on the Upper East Side. “It’s in great need up there. Sant Ambroeus can’t hold everything together. And have to ever been to Via Quaddrono? You can’t even get in the place.”
One observer pointed out that with three floors of galleries upstairs, a cafe at 980 Madison was a good fit, one that does not even need to turn a profit but could simply function as a clubhouse for Gagosian regulars. But when the local Greek diners can charge $2.50 for dreck, it should not be too hard for Cafe Gilbert to turn a tidy profit on a decent cup of Joe.
It could be his own version of the ever-popular, often-profitable museum cafe.