Earlier this week, it was announced that a Golden Girls-themed café would open in New York later this year. Michael LaRue, who was a close friend to actress Rue McClanahan (feisty senior Blanche Devereaux in the wildly popular series), is planning to open The Rue La Rue Café in September, as a monument to both the show and his beloved friend.
I was able to chat with LaRue today, and he filled us in on everything that we can expect from the Golden Girls café.
1. This Café Was Really Rue’s Idea
As LaRue told me, “One of Rue’s final wishes was that her fans, the ones who were responsible for her getting to lead the lifestyle that she led, would have access to all of the personal property and show business memorabilia.” That wish is coming true with the opening of the Rue La Rue Café.
2. It Was a Team Effort
While Michael is really leading the charge on the café, he’s getting some help from McClanahan’s son, artist Mark Bish. “Mark has always thought there should be a place where people can come see these things, see the costumes from the Golden Girls, where they could see Rue’s Emmy Award, and know about her career, because she had a huge career,” Michael explained.
3. The Space Should Be Communal
As Michael explained, “We’re creating a place that honors Mark’s mother, a place where people can get together and geek out on the Golden Girls, and just have fun.” To that end, they’ve placed a piano, one of Rue’s own, in the corner because, as Michael said, “Rue felt that a stage was a sacred place.”
4. Michael Is Still Taken Aback By the Continued Fan Response
“Well, it always used to shock me; everywhere we would go in public, people would line up. We’d be sitting somewhere for dinner and there would be a line literally to the door [of] people literally just wanting to tell her how much she meant to them, and how that show changed their life, so I always knew this was big. But, I have to tell you, Rue would be thrilled that six years after her leaving this earth—she still loved her fans the way that she is. She’d be thrilled.”
5. The New York Location Is Super Important
When I asked why La Rue chose New York for the home of the café, since the show was set in Florida and the actual Golden Girls house was in California, it turns out McClanahan had a special connection to the city. “When she was 14 years old, her family went to New York for the first time. Her father put them all in the car and drove from Oklahoma to Manhattan, and she said that as soon as she came up the subway stairs at 42nd street that she knew she was home,” La Rue explained.
6. The Location Has a Serendipitous Connection
Even the location of the Rue La Rue Café has a connection to The Golden Girls, and more specifically, to the character that fellow Golden Girl Estelle Getty, played on the series. “Since Rue passed away, and I sold the apartment, we’ve been storing her possessions in various locations. One of the places we’ve been storing is Sofia’s Storage, and I thought it was funny,” Michael explained. (Getty’s character was Sophia Petrillo.) “And every time we walked in and out of the building, there’s this space on the first floor, I thought, ‘That should be a café.’ One day I thought that, and that little voice inside answered when I said it, and it told me, You should do it there.”
7. There Will Be Marathons …
Michael praised the Walt Disney Company for helping with this project. “The Disney Company has been wonderful to us since the very beginning, totally supportive,” he said. “They are doing something unprecedented.” What are they doing, though? Well for one they are allowing the café to screen multiple episodes of the series. “We can do marathons,” La Rue promised. Yes, you can have dinner while watching your favorite character bicker on a screen before you. Oh wait, this is our routine every night.
8. … And Exclusive Merchandise
The other thing the company is allowing is brand new merchandise. Michael promises “Rue La Rue merchandise, featuring images from the show,” plus, he says, “they’re letting us carry all of the new Disney merchandise for the show.” So yes, be sure to pick up a souvenir before you leave.
9. The Menu Is Going to Be Amazing
Michael said that McClanahan kept recipes that people had given her over the years, so that those will be the basis for many of the dishes served at Rue La Rue. “We have this collection of recipes from all these people she worked with over the years, so we’re going to use those recipes for the food,” Michael said. “We’re doing Betty White’s Angel Food Cake, Bea Arthur’s Pasta Salad, Estelle Getty’s Chocolate Chip Cookies — those are the kinds of things that will be sold in the cafe.” Additionally, fans of the show will recognize items that directly reference The Golden Girls: “We’re also using menu items from the show itself, like ‘Rose made this’… We have a marble pound cake called, ‘It looks like chocolate, it tastes like spice, you wish you had a bigger slice marble pound cake,’ that’s one of the menu items. So there will be a lot of things the fans will identify.” Also, rest assured, Rose’s kerflugenglugen is present and accounted for.
10. The Décor References The Show Too
The Golden Girls references go beyond memorabilia, merchandise, and menu items. The décor is also directly influenced by the series. “We found the exact wallpaper that was in Blanche’s bedroom, and we’re doing a wall in that banana leaf paper,” Michael revealed. “I found sconces from 1920 that were used to hang in the living room of the Golden Girls house—they’re going up on the wall. And we found vintage light blue and pink tiles that we’re doing the restroom in, just like the house down in Miami.” Michael is sure that the die-hard Golden Girls fans will appreciate these small touches. “So the fans will definitely have these little tinges of recognition when they walk around the place,” he said.
11. Rue La Rue Café Will Be a Mecca for Golden Girls Fans
When I joked that the Rue La Rue Café will be a mecca for Golden Girls fans, Michael said that he did, in fact, want it to inspire that kind of devotion. “Once in a lifetime, every Golden Girls fan should have to make a pilgrimage to the café,” he joked.