*Sponsored | If you’ll recall, back in the height of the pandemic, when going out wasn’t a thing, I showed you what a literary date would look like inspired by the book In Five Years.
It was well received and got me thinking that maybe I should have done this all along? Give you all the literary date options in the book first. Then you can help me decide all the places I should go to and what you want to see.
It was a lot of fun the first time, so I think we should try it again. I read the romance book DeMarco’s Café by Julie Tetel Andresen and it is set in none other than New York City, of course. Shall we begin?
DeMarco’s Café is part of the Love and the City trilogy. I will be reading all three books along with sharing the literary dates these books could inspire.
*Book was gifted and this is a sponsored post in collaboration with CTS Agency and author Julie Tetel Andresen. All opinions are my own.
Book Review of DeMarco’s Café
Dayna DeMarco, fresh out of her first year of law school, returns home to SoHo after her father falls ill. Dayna is faced with taking the helm of the family business, DeMarco’s Café. She also suspects the cafe might be in financial distress.
Upon her return, Dayna discovers a band has been performing at the cafe and she wonders what the damage is? Meet Bo Grisham, a Kentucky-bred charmer who knows his way around a harmonica and the ladies. Bo doesn’t waste any time introducing himself to Dayna. However, Dayna doesn’t need her glasses to know not to trust a charmer, so she wisely resists Bo’s southern charms and doesn’t even give him her name.
A lot is at stake for Dayna. The financial situation is way worse than she ever could have imagined and her father is in an ICU fighting for his life.
Luckily, Dayna has great friends to support her, especially her best friend Tina. And perhaps a cute musician who may find a way into her heart? Bo, coming into her life the same time she’s dealing with such turmoil seems like a bad omen to Dayna but maybe she’ll come around? And Bo is usually a love ’em and leave ’em type but will Dayna make him want to stick around beyond the length of his band’s residency at DeMarco’s Cafe?
The characters have bad habits and don’t always say or do the right things. Cue Bo’s mega cheesy opening line to Dayna, but honestly, it added a quality of realness that I appreciated. And Bo’s cheesy line was kind of endearing especially when I picture him as a hot guy with a casual swagger and a Matthew McConaughey drawl.
Bo did have some moments where I wanted to sock it to him like when he playfully took something that wasn’t his. I was hoping Dayna would ruffle up his hair or something. However, as the story went on, Bo ended up pleasantly surprising me with how thoughtfully and respectfully he treated his relationship with Dayna. I definitely had moments like- cute musician, check! Thoughtful guy, check! Fun and spontaneous, check! I’d definitely go out with Bo.
DeMarco’s Café is written in the third person and alternates from Dayna and Bo’s perspectives. Besides Jane Austen’s books, I can’t remember the last time I’ve read a book in the third person. It took me a second to get used to the writing style but once I made the Jane Austen connection in my head, I was all in on the style. I love the playful sparring that Bo and Dayna have, she challenges him and he gives it back to her. There’s a fun and spontaneous moment when they are walking around the streets of Manhattan that made me smile big. It was the kind of moment that I could totally picture happening while walking around the city with a cute, musical guy. Gotta love those musicians!
New York City as a Character
When a book is set in New York City, the city should be its own character. Some books will be set in the city but other than it being mentioned that’s where the characters live, it really could have been set anywhere. The best books take you for a ride through the city and capture the vibe of the city. DeMarco’s Café does that. We get to walk alongside Dayna, Tina, and Bo through the streets of Manhattan. The characters feel the heart of the city beating through them.
I enjoyed reading DeMarco’s Café and definitely would recommend it if you’re looking for a fun romance to read. Something to note is that it is novella-length. At first, when I realized that it was a shorter book, I was worried it would feel rushed or incomplete. Happily, I can say that it felt like a well-developed story to me and I didn’t even really notice it was novella-length.
Potential Literary Date for DeMarco’s Café
Before reading, I was nervous thinking, no way a novella-length book could have enough for an awesome literary date. Boy was I wrong! These characters really know how to take advantage of living in this city, I was giddy with excitement every time they went to a new spot.
*Spoiler Disclosure* As always, I like to point out that these book locations are not actual spoilers, however, the locations could give you clues about where the story goes. I don’t reveal anything about the main storyline but I do write about where the characters go and sometimes with whom. I will always say that knowing the literary date spots will make you want to read the book even more, but of course, I am biased.
This section will be where the characters, live, work, and areas they venture to.
The fictional DeMarco’s Café is located in this hip neighborhood in Manhattan. SoHo is an acronym for South of Houston Street. It features cobblestone streets, high-end shopping, galleries, and trendy restaurants. SoHo is definitely a neighborhood out-of-towners want to visit to hobnob with the fashionable types.
Dayna and Bo both live in this neighborhood.
After work, I used to walk through SoHo during the height of the pandemic when the streets were empty. That is not the case anymore. Not going to lie, SoHo gives me heart palpitations. The neighborhood is smaller than the rest of Manhattan and packed with people and cars. Most New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead in Times Square but I feel like I can manage that chaos better than SoHo chaos. Fighting through a mass of theatre-goers and ginormous puppets doesn’t unnerve me. I can tear through that area no problem, leaving a wake of Elmos, Cookie Monsters, and naked cowboys behind me.
However, in SoHo, it’s a TON of people in a very small space who all think they are too cool and more important than the next person. They are wearing dark sunglasses at 7 pm. These are not my people. I’m also not really into shopping so there’s that too. Although, Dayna has a pair of Warby Parker glasses so maybe I’d check out those frames in the store just to see.
Dayna refers to the throngs of people and chaos of SoHo as “mishegoss” and she loves it. Bo thinks it has a small-town atmosphere. So for Dayna and Bo’s sake, I would be open to trying to see what they see. I don’t know how they live in that neighborhood but maybe there are some hidden gems on the side streets? In fact, Dayna may take us to one such place but I will hold that thought for now.
This neighborhood sits above the West Village and is known for its art galleries, upscale food, and being the spot in the city with the most gay bars.
In DeMarco’s Café, Tina is an artist and she promotes her work at one of the galleries in Chelsea.
One of the characters also goes to Chelsea Market and walks across the High Line. That excited me because I haven’t been to the High Line since it opened in 2009. Sometimes I wonder if I live in NYC too.
Financial District (FiDi)
Home to Wall Street, The New York Stock Exchange, and the Fearless Girl statue, this neighborhood features in DeMarco’s Café only briefly, but it is a pivotal scene. More on this area later.
North of Little Italy and according to compass.com, it’s a neighborhood “that combines downtown lifestyle with a cozy, quaint vibe…an intimate neighborhood where you can go to escape the crowds of SoHo or tourists passing through Little Italy to experience a quiet moment of your own.”
I definitely like the sound of that. It’s also another neighborhood that’s only featured briefly in DeMarco’s Café but Tina lives here so that’s important enough for me. I love to see where the characters live. Tina’s parents bought a small warehouse here in the seventies real cheap and now Tina gets to benefit from her parent’s excellent foresight. My parents also lived in the city in the 70s…where’s my cool, trendy warehouse?!
Time to get to restaurants because hello!? The title of the book is a RESTAURANT!
This café or more accurately, a bar and restaurant, is described in the book as old-fashioned, 1920s lighting, black walnut bar, red-checked tablecloths, and “old mirrored surfaces on the wall.”
When I read the description, the know-it-all New Yorker side of me came out and I thought, No way would a bar in fancy Soho be like that. Red-checked table cloths, I don’t think so! I felt all smug, I’ve lived in New York for over 15 years. I know New York. Never mind that most of my time is spent in my apartment with my cat.
Well…I googled and lo and behold, while DeMarco’s Café is fictional, I think I’ve found its inspiration…
A Google image search will show you that it almost exactly fits DeMarco Café’s description. I stand corrected.
My featured image is in front of this cafe that is located in Soho at 94 Prince Street, which is just one block away from fictional DeMarco’s Café.
Finelli’s is a historic restaurant and bar that has been in the city since 1847. It started out as a grocery store and then had many iterations including a speakeasy during prohibition when Michael Finelli took over in 1922. It changed ownership in 1982 but it remains as Finelli’s Cafe. Learn more about its history at newyorkartworld.com. I imagine DeMarco’s with this kind of history too.
I can’t believe I haven’t been to this cafe. The menu works for me too because I could get a veggie burger with pesto or pumpkin ravioli alfredo. Yum. It’s traditional American cuisine and pub food. They have something for everyone, burgers, pasta, fish, and even a seasonal shepherd’s pie for those who need a hearty meaty meal. When is shepherd’s pie in season?
One of the characters grabs food here from The Lobster Place but since I’m vegetarian I wouldn’t go to this spot. However, I do recall some yummy ice cream at Chelsea Market so you know what I’ll be in search of. I’m sure I could also find some vegetarian fare to satisfy my tummy.
This spot has Cuban-Mexican food, sounds delicious! Dayna and Tina have brunch here and have been going here since their early teens. Tina drinks hibiscus iced tea and it’s black coffee for Dayna and they both eat huevos rancheros. It’s located in Nolita and I googled the menu and it looks mouth-watering. I should have gone here yesterday.
This is another restaurant Tina and Dayna go to but sadly it’s closed. Doesn’t seem to be a casualty of the pandemic because the last reviews I see were from 2018. It served Spanish tapas so sounds like another place I would have loved. These characters have great taste in food. According to the book, it’s on Sixth near West Fourth Street, so I could go to the area and find something else that strikes my fancy or see what’s at that exact location now.
Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse
Ohhhh noooo. Thankfully this one is also temporarily closed although the website shows a reopening was to happen in the fall of this year so I might not be in the clear. Sorry, I will not wish ill of a local business. I do hope they reopen. And I would go to a steak house if friends wanted to go because I can be an open-minded vegetarian. However, if I went here, I’d have to plead with the waiter, “For the love of God, can you make the mac & cheese without King Crab? I’m begging you!”
Alright, this isn’t actually in the book, but if I’m going to Soho and there are scrumptious cupcakes nearby, I’m going. The End.
Activities inspired by DeMarco’s Café
The High Line (pics circa 2009)
I would LOVE to see what the High Line looks like these days. When the character started walking across it, I yelled out, “YASSS! Walk across that High Line, baby!”
The High Line is a public park that was built atop an elevated rail line. It’s located on the west side of Manhattan and stretches from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. Multiple entry spots using an elevator are located along the park. According to the High Line’s website, it is more than a park. You can view art, encounter live music, eat yummy food, and all the while have NYC as your backdrop. Sounds fabulous!
I mentioned that Tina promotes her work at one of the galleries in Chelsea, well, the gallery isn’t named. However, given intel from the book along with consulting with an artist friend, I believe the Gagosian could be the gallery that inspired this book location.
It’s located near the High Line and from the book’s description, the door is “monstrous and industrial and a mite overstated.” It also has thirty-foot high ceilings and my artist friend said it sounded like one of the city’s mega galleries. Gagosian is one of Chelsea’s mega galleries and from my google images search, it looks like it fits the book’s description. I love the detective work literary dates make me do.
The other options for mega galleries would be Hauser & Wirth or David Zwirner. Heller Gallery is also a possibility since its location might be the closest to the fictional gallery’s location.
Yikes! That’s a lot of galleries. Maybe I could go to all of them but what would I wear? I need a new wardrobe! Although, Dayna wore a “simple cotton dress in a shade of light green” so maybe I don’t need to feel that kind of pressure?
Elizabeth Street Gallery
This is the hidden gem I was telling you about earlier! This is a favorite spot of Dayna’s and it has exotic antiques and a sculpture garden. She came here to hang out in the garden and in the book, it’s described as a “grassy space, studded with odd, oversized Victorian-style sculpture, was a good thirty yards long and ended in a solid brick wall.” Dayna sat on a bench next to “a ridiculously large stone urn on a stone pedestal.”
This spot exists and I had no idea. It sounds like a secret, little slice of heaven in the midst of a hustle and bustle city. The Secret Garden of New York City. I wonder if the reality would match how I imagine it?
Beth Israel Hospital
Okay, I wouldn’t actually go here. Although I do work at a hospital so I can hang out in them all day, in fact, I do! I could try to flash my work ID and maybe I’d get in. Check out the offerings in the cafeteria? I would love to do a pizza tour of NYC hospitals. No?
I love it when a book set in NYC takes us on a walking tour through the city. When the author shows us exactly where the characters are walking it gets me all tingly with anticipation. Those moments bring the city to life in the book. It makes the reader feel like they are right there with the characters on the city streets. And when I do a literary date, it allows me to walk the exact path of the character. Author Julie Tetel Andresen takes us on a few walking tours throughout the city in DeMarco’s Café.
Dayna and Tina’s Walking Tour
I loved following along on Dayna and Tina’s walk through the city as they chatted and passed by the everyday sites of the city. Getting there is half the fun when you’re gabbing and walking with your friends through the city to your destination.
Tina and Dayna are in Soho on Elizabeth Street, then cross Houston and head north. When Elizabeth dead-ends into Bleecker Street they have to stop to decide if they will go right toward the East Village or left to the West Village.
This decision depends on food, did they want, “Italian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese, Mexican, Vegan, French, or American. The sheer abundance of choice gave Dayna such delight that she was moved to spread her arms and cry out, ‘I love this town!'”
This is the essence of New York City- endless possibilities. Tina decides on Tertulia so they turn left on Bleecker, pass shop windows, take a right on Broadway and soon they see NYU buildings with purple flags…
Then they take a left on East Fourth and they walk through…
Washington Square Park
I love this area! There’s always something going on in Washington Square Park. When I went during my Annie Van Tour, I stumbled upon a Hare Krishna festival and I’ve also been to a Billion Bubble Festival here. Dayna and Tina reminisce about one of their own unique experiences while passing through here.
Bo’s Walking Tour through FiDi
Bo goes down Broadway past Trinity Church, which is described in the book as a “tranquil oasis and beautifully lit at night.” Then he turns left on Wall Street, passes in front of Federal Hall, to the right is the New York Stock Exchange before he makes his way to take a right on William Street. He rounds the corner and saw “floodlit columns of a portico, wrapped in a small semi-circle rounding the odd intersection Beaver Street made with William, and topped with a low stone balustrade that the facade wore like a dainty crown.” I have to see this in person to get it because I’m pretty clueless about what any of that means. What the heck is a balustrade?
This area is nice to see, Bo would agree that the historical architecture is cool and the narrow streets are a marvel especially the pedestrian-only Stone Street.
This walk leads Bo to Delmonico’s but it would probably lead Lauren to the Fearless Girl statue instead.
Dayna and Bo’s Walking Tour
Dayna and Bo’s walk takes us through Chelsea past the Apple Store, bars and restaurants, and boutique hotels. They eventually land on 6th Ave. at 22nd street, which takes them through a street fair. When the weather gets warm, street fairs regularly pop up in NYC. It’s fun to stumble upon them, you’ll see food, crafty stuff, jewelry, clothing, and even sometimes crystals to help attract positive energy or love.
They pass through the fair admiring the different vendors, then walk to the Village and then through Washington Square again. They cross the street on the other side of the square and then decide to take a completely random path.
I like this idea! Get lost in the city. I once traveled to Venice with friends and read Rick Steves travel books and one of his suggestions was to get lost in Venice. Just keep making random turns, no plan, just go for it. That was one of my favorite travel memories from the trip. I definitely would enjoy getting lost in the Village and then when I see a spot that I’m compelled to go into, I will. Especially if it was a cozy cafe. Maybe I’d end up on a “quiet, leafy side street” and find just the spot.
DeMarco Cafe’s Literary Date
Wow! This literary date would be jam-packed. I’d probably need a full month of doing nothing but this literary date to be able to see all the sites in this book. So many of these spots sound amazing, don’t they?
If I went on this literary date one day, where would you want me to go? Maybe the High Line or Washington Square Park? Or what about Elizabeth Street Gallery with that secret garden? Where would you want to eat if you went on this literary date? Let me know in the comments. Thank you!
About Julie Tetel Andresen
Julie has written over thirty romance books, is a linguistics professor at Duke University, and is a world traveler. Julie is also a blogger and loves yoga.
To learn more about Julie and her book, DeMarco’s Café, check out her website at julietetelandresen.com.
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Next Up for Literary Dates
I will definitely be reading the next book in the Love and the City trilogy, Love After All and sharing what that literary date might look like. I like the sound of this book because it’s a romance between an older couple. It’s about time!
I also have plans to go on a literary date for a book I read a while back. This awesome book was recommended by one of you. More to come!
Thank you all for reading!