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Last ‘sip-per’ for Tillie’s • Brooklyn Paper

Last ‘sip-per’ for Tillie’s

Dozens of locals — including Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) — gathered at Tillie's on Jan. 6 for a boozy goodbye to the iconic coffeehouse. Last fall, the owners announced that they were closing the DeKalb Avenue cafe due to a $2,000 rent increase.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Tillie’s has bean and gone.

The iconic Fort Greene café served its final cup of joe on New Year’s Day, but longtime staff and regulars met one last time to mourn its death and share happy memories at a boozy, Jan. 6 wake, fueled by wine, a deejay’s beats and — of course — plenty of hot coffee.

“If you have to go out, go out with a party!” said co-owner Patricia Mulcahy.

Tillie’s ground to a halt due to rising rents in the gentrifying neighborhood after being a cozy staple for students and Bohemian types since opening 14 years ago at the corner of DeKalb and Vanderbilt avenues.

“For many people [it] was more than a coffee shop,” said Nikki Lebenson, a regular who frequented the star-crossed shop with her father for years. “We knew this would happen, but it’s still so sad.”

Customers weren’t ready to let go, even percolating an “Occupy Tillie’s” petition against the building’s owner, who has indicated that he is seeking a high-rolling tenant who doesn’t serve coffee.

For some diehards, the java joint was the fuel that kept the neighborhood running.

“Tillie’s is about the energy, the students, writers and neighbors who call it home,” said Eleonora Del Federico. “We belong here and don’t want to live in a Fort Greene without it.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

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