Okay, so I wrote this Saturday, during the big Blizzard of 2016. Of course, then I went out into the big blizzard and got blind drunk! Oh my. Anyway, while writing, I was also emailing with one of the other employees from the bar in question and he told me not to post anything about it. He thought it would get the staff in trouble and be negative press, both of which would be bad for him. So I didn’t post it. But I’m torn. I have some pretty strong feelings about this. To solve the problem of bad PR I took out all the names. Some people will know who (and where) I’m referring to. But at least it won’t be as obvious. And hopefully no one will get in trouble.
Last night I experienced a serious meltdown.
I sat down for happy hour at XXX, my favorite bar, a bar I’ve been drinking in since 1986. (No, not steadily. SHUTUP!) The friendly barmaid had my Stella in front of me in moments. But when my date arrived he almost died of thirst. Our barmaid was on the phone with tech support, struggling with the new POS computer. Eventually his thirst was slaked. Crisis averted. But only temporarily.
When the shift changed, instead of welcoming the acerbic XXX, who would spin vinyl and serve attitude, a willowy young woman wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt asked how we were doing. “You’re not XXX,” I stammered. “No, I’m not,” she smiled. Sensing my distress (and probably picking up on my panic, which evidenced itself as a string of expletives) she offered to buy us a round. Ordinarily that might’ve mollified me. But when she was joined by her co-bartender — A co-bartender? But WHY? The bar isn’t so big it requires two! — I blew my remaining gaskets. The man was wearing a belly shirt. And he had a man bun. A MOTHERFUCKING MAN BUN!
Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot express to you the direness of this situation. Yes, I know the East Village has been changing for years. I’ve watched as the drug dealers and junkies were replaced by bankers and “basics.” I’ve witnessed the high-rises go up on the Lower East Side and waved goodbye as my friends were priced out of their rental apartments. And I’ve mourned every closed dive bar as my property value went up. But this? THIS?
I should’ve seen the writing on the wall. When a “cocktail menu” appeared on the bar, touting muddled drinks. When the number of barstools doubled. When the tablet appeared beside the cash register, glowing annoyingly in our faces. But is NOTHING sacred? I mean, a MAN BUN? So here is my Open Letter to XXX.
I’ve been enjoying the ambience of XXX for 30 years. Last night I was sad to see that instead of XXX there were two shiny new faces behind the bar. This upgrade was a painful one. I can sympathize that changes need to be made. I understand that rents go up. But you own half the bars in the neighborhood. I was told you want to make XXX “more like XXX.” Why? Why on earth do you need to make bar A more like bar B? Especially when bar B is only blocks away? Couldn’t you leave just one bar the same? You’ve upgraded upstairs. You’ve created XXX out of a basement. Has XXX been losing money? Those hip, young drinkers you’re making these changes for are fickle. I’ve watched as they pause on the sidewalk, decide to come in, order one Appletini and then move along to the next hot spot. Are the few dollars you make on their one, fleeting transaction that much more valuable than the dozens (and dozens) of dollars I’ve been spending at your bar for the last three decades?
Yes, I know. I can take my business elsewhere. Yes, there are still a few other establishments that remain, like flies captured in amber, unchanged. But your bar is my favorite. Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive (or overly nostalgic) but the message I’m receiving is this: “Fuck off, old people. I don’t want you in my bar.” If that isn’t the intention, perhaps you can tell me why, with all the bars you run, it was necessary to “youthify” the only “neighborhood bar” you had left.
a cranky old broad from the neighborhood <shakes fist>