Shott On Location: Rapture Cafe & Books, 200 Avenue A

The Real Estate today launches a new weekly feature called Shott on Location. Counter Espionage columnist Chris Shott will blog live about shops, stores, restaurants, bars, clubs and other retail locales around the city.


“Do you have to pay for wireless?” asked a lady in a fuzzy gray sweater, seated upon the ruby-colored sofa just inside the East Village’s brand-spankin’ new cafe/bookstore/performance space, Rapture, at 11: 38 a.m. on Dec. 28.

She was knitting a cap as her IBM Powerbook booted up. A steaming cup of tea and a copy of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides sat at her table, while the Scissor Sisters’ song, “Tits On The Radio,” played in the background.

The answer to her question (as noted by a sign in the window) is no. Yet only two others, including this reporter, were taking advantage of the venue’s advertised free wi-fi as the noon hour approached.

Proprietor Joe Birdsong said the 2,200-square-foot space (formerly occupied by the Clockwork Orange-themed Korova Milk Bar) has been a bit busier in the evenings since first opening to the public last week.

This, despite the spot’s current dry status.

Mr. Birdsong is still awaiting his community-approved liquor license, which he hopes to receive once the State Liquor Authority’s present moratorium on new licenses expires next month.

For now, patrons can sip coffee or tea as they browse the cafe’s prerequisite bookshelves.

Mr. Birdsong, who, in order to some day sell alcohol, pledged to operate primarily as a bookstore, said he has, in fact, sold some books, particularly back on Christmas Day.

Not that shoppers at that time had many other options. “We were the only place open,” he said.

– Chris Shott

UPDATE: Two additional customers had brandished computers, as of 12:22 p.m. Shott On Location: Rapture Cafe & Books, 200 Avenue A