The Lone Star Cafe in New York City was located on 61 Fifth Avenue (at 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 building was demolished and the site became condos in 2012.
The Lone Star Cafe’s motto—proudly displayed on a banner just below the roof—was “Too much ain’t enough.” Texas county music singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver wrote these lyrics in the song “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” (1973):
“It’s taking me so long and now that I know I believe
All that I do or say is all I ever will be
Too far and too high and too deep ain’t too much to be
Too much ain’t enough for old five and dimers like me.”
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.
Wikipedia: Lone Star Cafe
The Lone Star Cafe was a cafe and club in New York City at 61 Fifth at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, from 1976 to 1989. The Texas-themed cafe opened in February 1976 and became the premier country music venue in New York and booked big names and especially acts from Texas, like Greezy Wheels, George Strait, Asleep at the Wheel and Roy Orbison. Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Roy Orbison, Delbert McClinton, Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm and Jerry Jeff Walker, were among Texas musicians who frequented the Lone Star Cafe. Joe Ely and Billy Joe Shaver also appeared at the cafe. The words from Shaver’s 1973 song “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” were displayed on a banner in the front of the cafe: “Too Much Ain’t Enough.” Other national acts played the cafe, including The Blues Brothers, Clifton Chenier, and James Brown, who recorded a live album there in 1985.
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).
The Spirit of the Soil: agriculture and environmental ethics
by Paul B. Thompson
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 (CA) 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 (CA) 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 (IL) Tribune, Voice of the people, pg. A18:
“Too much ain’t enough” is the credo for a New Yorker.
17 January 1988, Washington (DC) 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 (NY) 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 (NY) 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.”
Billy Joe Shaver - Old Five And Dimers Like Me
ItsWaldo (Walter Brinkman)
Uploaded on Feb 18, 2012
Billy Joe Shaver - Old Five And Dimers Like Me
Live from Austin (Tx) City Limits - August 14 , 1984
Off the Grid (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)
Ladies Who Lunch, Cowboys, Condos, and Such
BY DREW – APRIL 13, 2012
POSTED IN: WEST VILLAGE
As recently reported, the condo construction project at 61 Fifth Avenue (at 13th Street) has been getting closer and closer to completion. The condo site sits across the street from another construction site for the new New School building at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. The new building will feature three large duplex apartments and will be clad in limestone. Before the new tower began to rise, the site was host to a unique succession of venues that featured food, music, and a giant lizard.
By the 1970s the restaurant chain was fading, and in 1976 the 13th Street location was replaced by The Lone Star Café. The Lone Star Café was Texas-themed club and eatery that featured live country music by some of the genre’s biggest stars.
In ep202 of Texas at AOL video,there is a location shoot showing the Lone Star Cafe.
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
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.