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Photo:  Lena Spencer, 1961 © 1961, Joe Alper

Photo: Lena Spencer, 1961 © 1961, Joe Alper

“Educate your audiences to expect the best in musical talent, familiar or unfamiliar, and always be governed by the dictates of good taste.” – Lena Spencer Caffè Lena is widely recognized as the oldest continuously operating coffeehouse in the United States. It is an internationally renowned cultural center and an American treasure. Opened in 1960, the café has helped to launch many of America’s best loved songwriters, including Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Ani DiFranco and many more. Upon the death of our founder, Lena Spencer, in 1989, Caffè Lena was converted to a non-profit institution which today continues as a living legend: breathing in ideas, dreams, and possibilities—breathing out music, poetry and theater. Caffè Lena has always been a place where people renew their faith in the power of music. They come up the stairs and enter a room where a world-class performer is only feet away from the audience, where they can see every movement of fingers on frets and feel a foot tapping rhythm on the stage.

Run by a small paid staff, a Board of Directors, and an ever-evolving team of volunteers, the caffe is proud to stay true to Lena’s founding vision of simplicity, kindness to strangers, and art above profit. Caffè Lena is now preparing for a major renovation that will enhance access for disabled people and bring greater comfort to all.