MANHATTAN — It’s believed that by the time this pandemic is over, four out of five restaurants in Manhattan may have to close permanently.
Hundreds of Broadway performers aren’t going to let that happen to one of their favorite theatre district restaurants that’s been a mainstay,
The “Save West Bank Cafe Virtual Telethon” began with a clever nod to the classic Christmas film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
But this time it’s not Jimmy Stewart but West Bank Café owner Steve Olsen in need of saving. After 42 years of creating a cozy home for performers and theatre-lovers, West Bank Café was in danger of closing in a week because of the pandemic.
So producer Tom D’Angora swooped in like a Christmas Angel and created a GoFundMe page and virtual telethon to save the day.
“I said this was Steve Olsen’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ moment,” D’Angora said. “In just 13 days, we created a 10-hour telethon. If we’d had a littke longer, we’d have done a 24-hour one.”
More than 200 performers, stars of Broadway and the cabaret scene, jumped at the chance to help out. Many had worked at the restaurant’s downstairs Laurie Beechman theatre when they were just starting out. Famous alum include Joan Rivers, Rebecca Luker, Aaron Sorkin, Lewis Black and Rusty Magee.
Less than two hours into this 10 hour virtual telethon Producer Michael D’Angora had met his goal and had raised more than $250,000.
“This is the best Christmas gift ever,” Steve Olsen, the West Bank Café owner, told PIX11 News. “Twenty-six hundred people donated and I am going to be busy writing thank you notes through the end of the pandemic,” he added.