A promise to a good friend is now coming together as a cafe inspired by Rue McClanahan from the “The Golden Girls.”
Michael J. LaRue, who was one of McClanahan’s closest friends and was producing a musical adaptation of her memoir when she became ill, is collaborating with her son Mark Bisch to open the Rue La Rue Café at the Sofia Storage Building in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood.
Before she passed away in 2010, McClanahan, who played the feisty and flirty Blanche Devereaux, asked LaRue to ensure that her son never need to worry about money and that her fans have access to the show’s memorabilia. After creating a site where people from all over the world purchase McClanahan’s items from the show and launching the Official Rue McClanahan Memorial Page, LaRue decided that the best way to continue McClanahan’s memory would be to open a cafe that was all about her.
“We decided we will create a place where fans can come, they can see the memorabilia themselves, hold her Emmy award in their hands, touch these costumes and just sort of geek out about ‘Golden Girls’ together,” LaRue said in an interview with the Forward.
The cafe will be arranged as a loop that guides visitors through different periods of McClanahan’s life — her childhood, early movies and, eventually, her role as Derveaux on “Golden Girls” and her time on Broadway. Notable decorations will include the costumes McClanahan wore in the show, her Emmy statuette and the letters that she received from co-star Betty White.
LaRue also plans to air clips from “Golden Girls” and serve food that the show’s characters used to prepare, such as Rose’s Geneukenfleuken cake, as well as dishes from McClanahan’s personal recipe book, like the pasta salad recipe given to her by Bea Arthur and White’s recipe for angel food cake.
Having lost his mother at a young age, LaRue was extremely close to McClanahan during her life. They always thought it was funny that his last name and her first name matched so perfectly.
“Rue asked me to marry her three times because she wanted to be Rue LaRue,” he said.
After receiving permission from Disney to air clips from the show, LaRue learned that the fastest-growing demographic of “Golden Girls” viewers are people under 25.
“They told me that 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, somewhere on the globe, ‘The Golden Girls’ is playing,” he said. “It never is off the air.”
LaRue anticipates opening the cafe by the beginning of September. As he lives only eight blocks from the cafe, he plans to be there chatting with visitors every day of the week.
“Instead of everyone having to get on the A and run downtown for fun, I want them to call their friends downtown and say ‘You know what, come up here this weekend. I have the coolest place to show you,’” LaRue .