A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 30, 2006
“Too much ain’t enough” (Lone Star Cafe, NYC; Darrell Royal)

The Lone Star Cafe in New York City was located on Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, and it existed between 1976 and 1989. The Lone Star featured performers such as Kinky Friedman and Willie Nelson, and it had a sculpture of a 40-foot iguana on its roof. Even in New York City, a place such as the Lone Star was memorable. The site is now occupied (sadly) by a Korean grocery.

The Lone Star Cafe’s motto—proudly displayed on a banner just below the roof—was “Too much ain’t enough.”

University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal also used “too much ain’t enough” in 1973, when asked if the UT Longhorns had played in the Cotton Bowl too much. It’s not known if the Lone Star Cafe was inspired by Royal’s quip.

Vanishing Downtown: Former site of the Lone Star Cafe
On the corner of East 13th Street & Fifth Avnue, this space used to house the Lone Star Cafe (see pic below), an ersatz honkytonk live music venue most famous for having a giant replica of an iguana on its roof for thirteen years (see below too). 

Google Books
The Spirit of the Soil: agriculture and environmental ethics
by Paul B. Thompson
Routledge (UK)
Pg. 48:
The banner that hung from the Lone Star Cafe in New York City throughout the 1970s read, “Too much ain’t enough.” The go-go Western enthusiasm of that slogan captures the spirit, if not the essence, of the productionist ethic.

31 December 1973, Los Angeles Times, Quotebook, pg. C2:
Darrell Royal, Texas football coach, asked if he’s tired of the trip to the Cotton Bowl (his team plays Tuesday for the sixth straight year): “Too much ain’t enough.  And it like as not never will be.”

4 June 1978, Los Angeles Times, “Tom Petty: Plugging In to the Glory of Rock” by Robert Hilburn, pg. T76:
The album’s other highlights range from the nostalgic, romance-behind-the-grandstands aura of “Magnolia” to the mocking anger of “Too Much Ain’t Enough” to the wounded emotion of “Hurt.”

28 December 1981, Chicago Tribune, Voice of the people, pg. A18:
“Too much ain’t enough” is the credo for a New Yorker.

17 January 1988, Washington Post, “How Houston Slipped On the Oil Patch” by George F. Will, pg. 81:
Houston had typified the Texas “too much ain’t enough” spirit, but suddenly see-through skyscrapers—new and empty—became the symbols of the city in which John Connally, Bunker Hunt and other high rollers were brought low.

12 April 1989, New York Times, “The Pop Life” by Stephen Holden, pg. C20”
Lone Star Cafe to Close
After more than 12 years of operation, the Lone Star Cafe, one of New York’s most popular downtown music clubs, will close after the late show Saturday evening. The Lone Star, at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue, has been a leading local showcase for American roots music, especially country and blues.
Passing through the Lone Star’s revolving doors, one had always had the sense of being abruptly transplanted from New York City to the vicinity of Austin, Tx.
In the next two weeks, the furnishings of the Lone Star Cafe, including the roof sculpture of a giant iguana, are expected to be put up for auction.

4 March 1997, New York Times, “Lounge Lizard’s Comeback” by Bruce Weber, pg. B1:
“It had a very strange ambiance: people trying to be Texans and Texans trying to be people,” said Mr. (Kinky—ed.) Friedman, the novelist and musician who performed at the Lone Star with a band called the Shalom Retirement Village People, and recalled hanging out inside the club and also on the roof with the likes of Andy Warhol and John Belushi. “People made love inside the iguana. Drug deals went down all around it.”

“The iguana was the perfect symbol of the times; it was an otherwordly, next-door-to-evil creature.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (3) Comments • Saturday, December 30, 2006 • Permalink

In ep202 of Texas at AOL video,there is a location shoot showing the Lone Star Cafe.


Posted by Chuck Snitchler  on  01/31  at  01:29 PM

I grew up in Manhattan and was going to the lone stare since I was 14 (33 years ago). Now I live 1 block from the old site and ther is a rumor going around the Village that a guy bought the site and is planning to re-open the Lone Star! Have you heard anything about this?
Thanks much, Chris

Posted by Chris  on  08/03  at  04:51 PM

I stumbled upon the Lone Star Cafe about 1979, and have never seen a place like it before or since, Texas, LA, NYC, nowhere.
I had no idea Willie & Family were going to be there that night and was blown away.
Later that night, two guys from SNL were trying out their new act...The Blues Brothers.
If you were at the bar and turned around, the bands were almost in your lap.
Always gonna miss the place.

Posted by Peter Hicks  on  05/28  at  10:05 PM

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