The “comfort” café at the 9/11 museum is a shame
If the National September 11 Memorial and Museum gets you down – all those unbearable recordings, the last words to loved ones, the bloody shoes and the pictures of falling bodies – overcome it with “comfort foods”, farm produce. seasonal and locally made bottle feed.
The museum just opened without flinching, unforgettably, enshrines the horror of 9/11 for future generations. But the message sent by the plans for a cafe over horrible objects is:
Never forget . . . to pick!
This summer, Union Square Danny Meyer Events is to open an 80-seat Pavilion cafe inside the museum.
When I read that he would have “New York draft beers and American wines on tap,” I thought I had had a little too much myself.
The great restaurateur promises a “soothing” experience, modeled on the “contemplative” spirit of a tea room.
But the brains behind the museum apparently view their cathartic masterpiece as another cultural venue like MoMA or the Whitney, where Meyer also runs restaurants.
I can go eat tomato soup and grilled cheese after watching Picassos for a few hours. My appetite is not the same after a trip to hell.
Memorial / museum president Joe Daniels maintains that solemn sites like Gettysburg and Yad Vashem in Israel also have restaurants.
But Gettysburg was fought 151 years ago, and Yad Vashem is not at the site where the Holocaust took place.
The Museum is 9/11 where the terrorist attack took place just 13 years ago – and where the remains of 1,115 unidentified victims are stored.
“We’re not doing this for crass or commercial reasons,” Meyer told me. In fact, the cafe is supposed to make money, although Meyer says he will pay the museum “considerably above market” rent and a percentage of the proceeds, but “we’re not free” to discuss the terms.
But the problem is not just profit. A tacky gift shop selling Tchotchkes Twin Towers is found quite inappropriate. A bar and grill by name above burnt fire trucks and human ashes is just plain gross.