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Cafe Wha?, New York City

4.0
Cafe Wha? is a club at the corner of MacDougal Street and Minetta Lane in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City that has presented numerous musicians and comedians. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix who was recruited here by his manager Chas Chandler, Bruce Springsteen, The Velvet Underground, Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys, Kool and the Gang, Peter, Paul & Mary, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and many others all began their careers at the Wha?
Although Cafe Wha? was sold by its owner, Manny Roth, in 1968, the club remains at its original location, 115 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets, in the basement of The Players Theatre. Roth was the uncle of David Lee Roth.
The original Cafe Wha? opened in 1959 and closed in the late 1960s, when the room was taken over by Menachem Dworman, who ran the Cafe Feenjon in the location until 1987. The Feenjon featured Israeli and Middle Eastern music.

In 1987, the room was taken over by Noam Dworman, a guitar player, who changed the room back to a rock music format. In 1986 Dworman had introduced to the Feenjon the concept of a rock music house band made up of the most talented performers in the area. The band performed for a year at the Cafe Feenjon on Wednesdays and Sundays, quickly becoming so popular that they took over the entire week. Dworman had the idea to rename the club and chose the long abandoned name "Cafe Wha?", which he remembered from his childhood. The original Wha? owner Manny Roth had been a close family friend and sometime business associate of the Dwormans, and the original Wha? had been an important part of the historic Greenwich Village music scene.

Since the inception of the Cafe Wha? House Band in 1987, Cafe Wha? has been known to have patrons waiting in line around the block every night of the week. The band plays dynamic, high-energy versions of popular songs, and encourages an utterly informal atmosphere between the stage and audience. The Cafe Wha? Band became well-known all over the world, and many of the original members still play at the club today. The Cafe Wha? Band is currently billed as "The Best Damn Band in New York City" and hosts many celebrity guest performers to this day.
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Cafe Wha? Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
536 reviews
Google
4.3
TripAdvisor
  • Best place to enjoy amazing live performances and sing along and dance the night away ! Amazing talented singers and musicians , even guest performances from local regulars are world class. Mostly...  more »
  • Brian and the crew killed it again and we had a blast! Looking forward to next time and staying for the second show for sure!!  more »
Google
  • The $15 cover and one drink minimum was so worth it considering the wide ranging talent and musical spectrum of the house band. I also thought the drinks were really affordable. I had so much fun, I’ll definitely be back. A note that this location (in a basement) is not accessible and I do agree with other reviewers that the seating is super tight, but it didn’t sacrifice the great time I had.
  • Located next to the cellar, this spot hosts live shows and once you walk in, you're in for a fabulous time. Generally a cover charge is required with a one or two drink minimum. The staff is fantastic and will make sure you get your drinks on time. Great atmosphere if you get to watch a good band performing.

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