It’s the final curtain call for Tillie’s of Brooklyn, but one area theater director is mounting a last-ditch community effort to save the iconic Fort Greene coffee house which will open for the last time on New Year’s Day.
Marc Eardley wants to turn Tillie’s into a café and comic book shop to prevent the Bohemian stomping ground from becoming a Starbucks — or worse.
“I hate the idea of losing [it],” said Eardley, a former retail manager who has helmed productions of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,”
Interest from neighborhood buyers could save the popular hangout, Eardley believes.
“The landlord would be hard pressed to say no to a group in the community that wants to run it,” he stated.
Landlord Danny Browne said he was all for a fair trade deal that wouldn’t compete with his other java-slinger in the building — Baguetteaboudit! — and denied rumors that he was looking to rent the DeKalb Avenue space to a Starbucks, bank or chain store.
“I am to open to anyone who can pay the rent and jazz up the building,” said the proprietor, who added that prospective tenants include restaurant and bar owners. “Ultimately I’m going to make a decision that’s best for me and best for everybody.”
Patrons suffered jolt to their system earlier this month when Tillie’s owners Patricia Mulcahy and Amos Yogev announced they were shuttering their 14-year-old shop because of a $2,000 rent increase. They put the coffee shop up for sale in October for $189,000, but Browne wasn’t on board with any of the potential buyers.
Tillie’s opened in 1997 when the neighborhood was far less trendy, and instantly became a neighborhood “living room” and performance space for students, artists and writers. Eardley wants to keep that spirit intact by revamping the interior, selling magazines or comic books, adding couches, and selling borough brews such as Park Slope’s own Gorilla Coffee.
“There’s a lot Tillie’s could do to make it more profitable,” he said. “It would not be hard to afford that rent increase in my mind — you’d just have to do some different things.”
Mulcahy said she didn’t know Eardley, but was touched by his attention towards her shop, whose future she left up to fate.
“Who knows if it could really stay open?” Mulcahy stated. “Life has many surprises.”
Tillie’s plans to go out with a bang. Its final day will include a sell-off sale of cheap pastries, tea boxes and coffee beans, and longtime staff plan to mourn it at an “Irish wake” on Jan. 6 at 8 pm.
Tillie’s [248 DeKalb Ave. at Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 783-6140]. For info, visit www.tilliesofbrooklyn.com. Community members who would like to invest in a new Tillie’s can contact Marc Eardley at (917) 628-0363 or [email protected].
Reach Kate Briquelet at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.