Sitwell’s Coffee House, once a staple location for Ludlow locals, shut its doors in January 2018. Not quite a year later, the shop reopened with new management and a new name. Sitwell’s Act II is back, and it looks better than ever.
New owners Florencia Garayos and Alex Barden purchased the company from former owner Lisa Stoire. They wanted to keep the café’s rustic, nostalgic feel, but hoped to implement some changes of their own.
The result? Sitwell’s Act II looks nothing like its former self. The cocktail menu got a makeover, and all the food options are vegan-friendly. The Greek gyro was unbelievably convincing, the glass noodle roll was fresh and springy, and the chili sauce really drove the dish home.
The walls are adorned with classic albums and movie posters from the 70s and 80s, like the Empire Strikes Back and Belle De Jour — one of my favorites. As a movie buff, I instantly fell in love with the place. An Annie Finch poem, “Revelry,” is scrawled across the interior perimeter of the café, so you have to take a stroll around the room to read it in its entirety.
Sitwell’s is also a music hub. Frequent live shows that highlight local artists feel like street performances turned indoors. I got there early — around 30 minutes before the performers were scheduled to begin — and I’m glad I did. At 8 p.m. on the dot, people started flooding in. It was like a nonstop barrage of Midwesterners trying to get a table.
The music started shortly after everyone settled. It was a lovely mix of jazz, folk and rock. The main acts scheduled to perform that night included Nave Netoow, Eva and Claire. Each of them absolutely rocked it; however, Eva was my No. 1 pick of the night. I’ve always loved jazz, and her voice is truly magical, reeling you in with every lyric she sings.
Though the production quality wasn’t top notch, the simplicity of the sound worked inside such a compact, intimate space. The crowd seemed pleased throughout the evening, offering enthusiastic applause after each set. I had a great time at Sitwell’s Act II, and I’ll certainly be visiting again soon. If you’ve got a free evening, be sure to check it out at 324 Ludlow Ave., right next to the Esquire Theater.