Fedora is a few steps below street level– one steps down and pushes open the door into a red hued room that feels like another world, or at least another time: warm, unpretentious, exciting, wonderful.
Alfred H. Lane passed away on March 20th, 2002, at age 85. More here.
The other day I ran into Fedora (the proprietress) of Fedora’s famous popular priced restaurant at 239 West 4th Street, near West 10th street. We’re neighbors but we hadn’t seen each other for several months. Not only is she still charming, but she is a damn good cook. I first encountered Fedora at her restaurant in the early 1950’s, shortly after the restaurant opened in 1952. That was even before Stonewall!
Fedora’s had always been popular with those who didn’t have a lot to spend, but mainly with the gay community, although the straight were also welcome. And what was important, the place didn’t change. Same pressed metal ceiling, same small intimate tables, same great service by dedicated waiters, same welcoming by Henry Dorato (Fedora’s husband) as the bartender who cheerfully greeted all his regular customers by their first names. True, there were occasional paint jobs, but no basic changes except air conditioning.
When Henry died in 1997, (I’m not sure when he was born), there was great sadness among the regulars, but the restaurant continued on with their son the dentist filling in temporarily as bartender.
May it still continue as long as Fedora can continue to supervise the kitchen and put in her nightly appearances!