Thursday, January 22, 2009

Credible-enough sources: The Holland Bar is reopening (soon, probably, too)

Walked by the now-closed Holland Bar on Ninth Avenue yesterday. Where did we leave off? Quick back-story: Jeremiah reported in November (on Election Day!) that the Holland was closing, possibly for good. Then came some follow-up news from Brooks at Lost City that the place was just getting a facelift...I happened by the place myself Nov. 14 and found the place suspiciously gutted.

So! Yesterday!

There is some activity going on inside...Not much to see. Some sawhorses. A few ladders. Power tools. A space heater. No furniture. No bar. Nothing. But!

The sign is still on the wall. And! The fellow at East West Grocery right next door emphatically told me the Hollard was reopening -- "in two weeks." Really? "Yes, it is reopening." After that, I stood out front and waited for the lone construction worker inside to emerge from behind the half-closed gate. The conversation went something like this:

Is the bar reopening?


Do you know when it will reopen?


Maybe in two weeks?

[Nervous laughter] "I don't know."

Looks like you still have a lot of work to do.

[Nervous laughter]

In any event, seems like a good sign that the, uh, Bar sign is still outside...and the neon Holland is still inside. Shall we all go back in two weeks?

Here's a little taste of the old Holland and Ernie the bartender from the Times, circa August 1987:

[I]nside the Holland Bar, they find small legends hanging like the smoke in the stale blue air.

Ronnie loved his unattainable Laura so much that he played "Tell Laura I Love Her" time after time after time -- $15 worth a night -- until, by resounding vote of the paying customers, the tune was banned from the jukebox forever.

Big Pete, 6 foot 6 inches and 400 pounds, downed 72 White Castles, on Aug. 24, 1983, according to a faded sign on the wall.

Larry the meatman used to set up shop and sell steaks at the bar until he forgot to tip Ernie once too often.

Ernie once talked a drag queen into dressing up as a clown and dancing on the street. It's not clear whether it was to attract business or drive it away.

Assembled on the bar stools the other day were a loquacious blond hooker; a cadre of postal workers from the post office across the street, a radio executive in a conservative suit; a Panamanian immigrant nursing his 15th cerveza, and Mario celebrating his release from jail with crisp white wine.

There was also a 53-year-old man who shoplifts to order -- just tell him what you need and get a 50 percent discount, "Bras, panties, whatever you want."

A few stools down, a tourist from Honolulu was back for his third day. "I just sort of stumbled in," he said.

[Holland Bar sign photo via Shanna Ravindra, New York magazine]

No comments: