The TCQ&A: “We Wrote Our Business Plan at Kaffe 1668”


downtown-dance-factory-by-angela-weirHanne Larsen and Melanie Zrihen launched Downtown Dance Factory last fall as a place for kids from 2 to teenage to learn everything from ballet to jazz to hip-hop. The women, who have seven kids between their families, know a thing or two about entertaining children, and also about dance: Larsen (right) has been teaching dance for 20 years and was the founder of the Jazz Factory in Sydney, while Zrihen studied ballet for 13 years. The classes, which are on a semester schedule, are being held at Tribeca Health & Fitness. (Portrait by Angela Weir.)

How long have you lived in Tribeca?
Melanie: Ten years. I moved to New York City from Canada in March 2000 and ended up in Tribeca “temporarily,” living in corporate housing, while we looked for an apartment near Central Park. It didn’t take long to realize that Central Park had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on Tribeca—the restaurants, the neighborhood feel, the parks by the water, the schools, the list goes on…. We never left!
Hanne: Four years. We moved to the area directly from Australia, having chosen Tribeca for the schools, the family feel and the loft living spaces.

Which restaurant do you frequent most often?
Both: Since starting Downtown Dance Factory, we have scoured the streets of Tribeca for places with great affordable food that happen to have wireless…. Being a start-up, our office space is limited (we have none!) and since the presence of our respective 2 year-olds pretty much rules out the possibility of working from home, we put our laptops in our bags and head out to the friendly places that don’t mind a couple of neighborhood friendly faces for a couple (OK, let’s face it) several (!) hours at a time!!! Our faves: Blaue Gans, Warren 77, Whole Foods’ café, and we wrote our entire business plan at Kaffe 1668 on Greenwich!

Which restaurant do you tend to go to for special occasions?
Both: We’ve gone to Marc Forgione and Sazón to toast and feast to the many little victories!

Where you order in (or get take-out) from? Are there dishes you always order?
Both: That’s easy! For our all-nighters we order from Takahachi—amazing and affordable sushi! Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Superman rolls. Also, desserts and drinks from Max—the best delivery service in Tribeca.

Which shop do you find it hard to resist popping into when you pass by?
Melanie: Hmm. That would assume we had the time. I remember one particular day before Hanne’s big birthday bash, we couldn’t resist a stop at Calypso!

warren-77-logoWhat was the last non-essential item you bought in Tribeca?
Both: We actually can’t remember the last non-essential item either of us bought anywhere. Then again, the fries at Warren 77 are non-essential, but totally delicious!

Where do you always take out-of-towners?
Melanie: My latest favorite restaurants for out-of-town guests is Macao Trading Co. and Locanda Verde. Love the vibe, and the food is amazing!

Which neighborhood building do you wish you lived in and/or owned?
Melanie: Can’t think of any in particular. It’s more of a neighborhood thing—I’d love to live on Duane, Reade, or Warren in an elevator-opens-into-the-loft type of space.

What’s your favorite part of Tribeca (street, park, whatever)?
Melanie: I love the strip of restaurants along Greenwich Street. I love walking up Greenwich (in summer!) with all the outdoor seating and great places for a drink, a meal, with kids, without. It’s such a welcoming street.

Your most memorable Tribeca celebrity sighting?
Melanie: Kevin Bacon! I’m 6 degrees away from so many celebrities now….
Hanne: My teenage crush, Jason Bateman.

If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be?
Both: Chambers Street and all the construction scaffolding!

Why Tribeca?
Both: For Downtown Dance Factory, Tribeca is the perfect location: lots of families, lots of great parents who are happy to expose their children to exciting learning experiences, and a vibrant area that can only be stimulating for us personally as well as for the great group of kids with whom we’re so lucky to be dancing each week.

Any questions you wish we’d asked?
Both: We wish you’d asked us to dance for you!





Previous TCQ&As:
Christy Frank: “I Wish Tribeca Had a Really Great Cheese Shop”
Carrie Loewenthal: “I Order the Kid-Size Pastas at Max”
Cate Bruce-Low: “I Grilled Liev Schrieber”

Think you should be next? Email!



  1. we are lucky to have hanne and melanie – thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving my girls such a wonderful “home” where they can express themselves with dance. Downtown Dance is incredible.

  2. Tribeca’s gain is Australia’s loss. Hanne is an amazing teacher and her school in Sydney doesn’t just get results – there is a sense of family.

    I love Hanne’s joyful spirit and delight in life – I am sure she passes this on to all who come in contact with her.

  3. I realize it’s above Canal Street, but Aurora might be slightly disappointed to be left off the list… but loves Downtown Dance Factory all the same!

  4. Tribeca is lucky indeed to have two such glowing spirits as Hanne and Melanie running Downtown Dance Factory. I was privileged to watch two wonderful demonstration classes recently —- one for two year olds and one for eight year olds. As a former dancer and a mother of dance students, I have seen many children’s dance classes. I have never seen children dancing with such a sense of happiness and joy, and pride in themselves and the class as a whole. It was as if they were participating in a wonderful secret that they were delighted to share. What a marvelous gift they are receiving at Downtown Dance Factory.

  5. Hi Hanne – what a fantastic idea for some free publicity for DDF – no wonder the school is going ahead in leaps and bounds, with two clever girls like you and Melanie at the helm. I specially liked the comment from Naomi Goodz ” I have never seen children dance with such a sense of happiness, joy and pride in themselves, and the class as a whole.” Hanne that’s exactly my memory of the Jazz Factory ! luv Annie