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Village’s ‘Comedy District’ will be getting another stand-up club

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | So these three comics walk into a former McDonald’s… .

Already a mecca for comedy clubs, Greenwich Village will be getting another one — though it won’t be until at least a year from now.

Noam Dworman currently owns three stand-up comedy clubs — sporting a total of four stages — all on the same single block at MacDougal and W. Third Streets: Comedy Cellar, Village Underground and Fat Black Pussycat.

He now plans to launch a fourth comedy venue, at the former McDonald’s location on W. Third Street, and is targeting the opening for September 2024.

A long line of comedy fans waited to get into the Fat Black Pussycat on a recent evening. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Community Board 2 has given its blessings for the place to have a liquor license, though Dworman noted, “They grilled me a bit.” He also needs approval from the Department of Buildings.

He purchased the property — which was originally built per McDonald’s specifications — for $7.3 million. The building, which is not landmarked, has a ground floor overlooked by an interior balcony.

“It was built from the ground up to be a McDonald’s,” Dworman noted. “It’s not a beautiful building, but it’s the perfect size for comedy. We’ll reconfigure the balcony.”

A Facebook post by comedian Ardie Fuqua, left, with Greenwich Village comedy impresario Noam Dworman. (Facebook)

The structure’s W. Third Street frontage has a lot of glass, which he thinks he’ll keep, and he’s mulling adding some stained glass, as well.

There will be food accompanying the comedy shows, but it can’t be a full-scale restaurant — unlike the Olive Tree Cafe around the corner on MacDougal Street, another of his properties — due to a quirky lease provision.

The former burger place was known as a troubled spot.

“It was a difficult corner,” Dworman noted. “There were a lot of fights on the corner that would filter into the McDonald’s.”

The original structure was built to McDonald’s specifications. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Obvious from the lines outside his clubs, there is big appetite for live stand-up in the area. Dworman is confident that adding a fourth venue is a good move.

“We have enough business to support it,” he said.

Just as there is the Garment District, Greenwich Village — which boasts several other stand-up clubs besides Dworman’s — is like a “Comedy District,” he noted.

His father, the late Menachem Dworman, known as Manny, previously owned the Comedy Cellar and Olive Tree Cafe, opening his first business on the block back in 1960. In 1968, the elder Dworman bought the Cafe Wha? from Manny Roth. The Cafe Wha? had been part of the Village’s live-music circuit, where acts like the Lovin’ Spoonful, James Taylor, Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix and many others performed. Manny Dworman turned the place into the Cafe Feenjon, specializing in Israeli and Middle Eastern music.

The Olive Tree Cafe space, meanwhile, previously had been a lesbian bar before Manny Dworman took it over.

In 1987, Noam Dworman took over Cafe Feenjon, renamed it Cafe Wha? and turned it back into a rock club. In 2005, he sold it.

As for the new comedy venue at the former McDonald’s space, Noam hopes it will be the best of his stand-up “rooms” — meaning “clubs” — yet.

“Each room has its own feel, because of the decor or the size,” he said. “This room will be the most beautiful, I hope.”

Asked what he plans to call it, he paused for a moment, then said, “I’m going to name it the Menachem Dworman Comedy Theater.”

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