On my way back from the Holland, I turned left on 36th Street off Ninth Avenue. I guess I didn't realize this place had closed. Hadn't been inside España en Llamas in a few years. I usually stuck with the Holland or the Bellevue in these parts. Too bad. I liked this place. Last time I was there, a drunken fellow tried to pick a fight with me for no reason. A few beers later, he had his arm around me. Friends, for no reason.
New York Press did a proper piece on the place back in May 2006. (No byline on it -- Joshua Bernstein's work? Updated: Yes, Josh wrote this...had confirmation.) This is about as accurate as you can be in describing the place:
At the western end, there's a signless storefront with a door falling off its hinge. It's beyond nondescript, a spot that could house a numbers hall or an ersatz squat. The storefront's smudged window, though, contains the key clue: a neon Budweiser sign nearly as old as neon.
“That's the type of bar where you can disappear,” a stranger said one day, motioning to the sign.
At the time, my roommate was ambling behind said gentleman. Words piqued ears, and I was later relayed the story.
“No one will ever find you,” he said. “It's like falling off the face of the earth.”
In the darkened rear room, which is stocked with mountains of Budweiser cases, construction workers gather 'round a video-poker machine. A middle-aged couple sits beside them, tongue-kissing. Are they adulterers? Who knows. Who will find out?
Hmm. Damn. Hate to see places like this go. Oh, it did seem as if something was happening inside, like some construction, though I didn't spot any permits. Never struck me as the place that would close for renovations, though.