Matt Harvey delves into the horror show also known as the LES nightlife scene in this week's NYPress cover story. God help us.
In what was once the center of the gentrification goldrush — the section between the Bowery and Essex Streets north of Delancey — most of the businesses left from the boom are nightspots catering to less-sophisticated outer-borough and beyond patrons. Fat Baby, Mason-Dixon and R Bar, along with restaurants that serve over-priced drinks, like Stanton Social or Spitzer’s Corner, dominate. Residents recently suffered the final affront when Zagat ranked the Lower East Side the city’s “hottest nightlife neighborhood,” replacing its more upmarket rival, the Meatpacking District, already renowned for its annoying nightlife clientele.
Susan Stetzer, the district manager for Community Board 3 and a long-term resident of the Lower East Side, says that the area is now an “entertainment center” for the bridge-and tunnel set. “Residents have given up if they still live there,” says Stetzer. She and other residents complain that the streets, shorn of businesses, are empty during the day because the tenants couldn’t pay rents inflated by the influx of nightlife money. Then, at night, it’s wall-to-wall yokels from the suburbs, which, according to Stetzer, “is really depressing.” She’s an advocate of vanishing mom-and-pop shops and dive bars, and says no one who lives in the LES goes to the clubs and lounges. “If they do, they don’t tell me,” she says. Others claim it’s impossible to find a quiet place to have a conversation and a drink.