Monday, August 2, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The Palm Cafe on 125th Street


A reader was inquiring on what every happened to the Palm Cafe at 209 West 125th Street. From some of the research that's on line, the palm was a one of the most well known jazz establishment in Harlem. The above photo from 1949 (click to enlarge) shows the semi-circular awning of the cafe and one can barely make out "Palm Cafe" printed at its circumference. There's neon signage above the said awning but its hard to make out from the angle of the photo peering west along 125th Street between ACP/7th and FDB/8th Avenue. Jimi Hendrix apparently was amongst the many notables that had their start at this famous club.

The lower photo shows the address today and the original building still remains. Currently the shop space that the Palm Cafe occupied is now a Sprint store. The next building over sits on the location where the Harlem Opera House used to stand (you can see some of it in the top photo). Does anyone know when the Palm actually closed? Read more about the Harlem Opera House in our past posts: LINK. Archival photo courtesy of NYPL. Current photo by Ulysses.

12 comments:

  1. I am doing research on this establishment regarding family history of previous owner and would like any info anyone can provide. I do not live in or around the New York area so doing research at the library is meering impossible. I am also working with another women who's father performed there known as "The King" Real Name Dave or David.

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    1. While working at the Palm in my youth as a waitress, I remember working with a man name "Dave"! He was not a performer. He worked as a waiter. The owner of the Palm at that time was Ralph Bastone. His son Freddy Bastone owned another club on 125th St and St. Nicholas Ave.
      called the "Top Club". Both were popular but the Palm Cafe was the creme de la creme of hot spots in Harlem. The fact that it was so close to the Apollo made it more accessible for famous folks stop by... and did that they did.

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  2. My mother's maternal uncles Frank & Patsy Naccarato were the original owners. I too would love to learn more about the establishment during the period of their ownership in the thirties and forties.

    I do know that the Palm is mentioned in the Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of his hangouts.

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  3. Rege,

    Would Patsy's name be Pasquale Nacarato. Please email me at victoria@versatile-designs.com I have some more info if you contact me.

    What is your real name. My mothers father's family's lineage is under Pugliano.

    Contact me.
    Thanks Victoria

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  4. What a great "logo" for Harlem that theater was ! It is a shame it is gone ! Love that photo !

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  5. I LOVE the vintage photos of Harlem. How I wish it looked like that now!

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  6. @REGE~ ANY INFO RE: THE PALM CAFE IS A COMFORT TO ME...THIS IS WHAT I POSTED PRIOR...DOES ANYONE REMEMBER A MAN NAMED DAVE WHO PERFORMED AT THE PALM CAFE IN THE LATE 60'S? I BELIEVE HIS STAGE NAME WAS "KING" OR NOT:-) HE WAS VERY FAIR SKINNED, DROVE A CADILLAC, AND HUNG OUT W/ A GUY NAMED CESAR. HE ALSO RESEMBLED JACKIE WILSON...RENTED A ROOM IN HARLEM, AND SUNG CABARET AT QUITE A FEW OF THE CLUB IN THE AREA OF 125TH ST..CELEBRITY CLUB AND SO FORTH.

    August 3, 2010 6:43 PM

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  7. If memory serves me correct, the Palm Cafe use to have a radio broadcast booth in the window where they would do live radio broadcasts from the cafe. It think Ralph Cooper, Symphony Sid, Dr. Jive broadcasted from there either nightly or on Saturday nights. They closed when Harlem started its downhill spiral around the early 70's

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    1. A black woman by the name Sister Betty was also a broadcaster at the Palm Cafe. She was born Rama Betty Bell. Her name changed to Rama Lomax after she married author Louis E Lomax.

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    2. I was a waitress at the Palm Cafe in the late 50s and early sixties. At that time the DJ was named Jocko Henderson who used the booth every Wednesday night. I think Jocko was based in Philly. Because I worked days, I left early on Wednesdays so I could return and work the night shift. Every one who appeared at the Apollo either visited or dined at the palm. Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke
      Marvin Gaye, Marv Johnson were only a few famous folks I had the pleasure of serving at the Palm. I retired from a major city housing agency as an Administrative licensed
      as a CPM. I will never forget my early years at the Palm. I still have photographs of my co-workers.

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  8. @ Sankofa . . .That is correct. WOV Radio was broadcast out of there in the 1940s & 1950s. The time period you speak of is after is switched to WGL Radio and began some of the first black american broadcasting programs.
    Were you around then. Maybe you can share some memories?

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