Monday, June 20, 2016

Bummer, BARA has closed on East 1st Street

BARA, a French/Japanese bar-restaurant at 58 E. First St., closed after service on June 11.

A sign on the door here between First Avenue and Second Avenue reads, "BARA is permanently closed. Bummer, right?"

The restaurant opened in December 2014 ... serving a menu created by Momofuku vet Ian Alvarez.

At a friend's suggestion, I tried BARA and liked it, dining here several times. (I've never eaten at any of the Momofuku places, for the record.) The BARA staff was low-key and friendly, and they played music by Can, Television and Richard Hell & the Voidoids on evenings I was there.

It was a good early-evening adult spot after seeing a movie at the nearby Anthology Film Archives or Sunshine Cinema... in part because it wasn't really that busy. (Meanwhile, people were in line for a table at Prune a few doors away.)

The previous establishment here, Prima, closed in August 2014 after nearly three years. In a refreshingly honest assessment, Prima's owners said that they closed because they just weren't busy enough.

Before Prima, the space housed the Thai restaurant The Elephant for 17 years).


Anonymous said...

"because it wasn't really that busy"

There you go.

Anonymous said...

Darn, it sounds good! It wasn't on my radar. Very sorry I missed it.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I really miss The Elephant. It had its own character and made you feel like you were going somewhere East Village specific. Whenever I walked by it, it made me feel like I should go in, even if I hadn't planned on going out.

This place and Prima before it, is basically the same joint with different door signage. Never felt like patronizing it. Watch whatever decides to come next look the same way and eventually flip just as quickly.

Gojira said...

"...a good early-evening adult spot" - and that was its kiss of death. Early evening? Adult? No place for either of those dinosaurs in the new East Village.

abfus said...

Commenters love to point out the hypocrisy in developers who destroy the very aspects of the neighborhood they feature in brochures selling 7-figure apartments. So readers of this site are well aware of how much pressure there is on businesses with such high rents.

In that environment, the surest route to financial viability is chasing every whiff of publicity to ensure a consistent flow of new customers. Some restaurants are very savvy about that: Regular press releases to Eater and NY Magazine; happy hours; themed dinners; visiting chefs; drink specials; guest musicians; and, yes, even dishes served in hooves draw new customers. They also happen to be the aspects of restaurants that turn off the people with the sensibilities of many of the commenters on this site.

Bara served great food at fair prices, but didn't deploy these tactics. Now it's gone. It's an example of how many EV Grieve commenters are in a no-win situation. So let's start recognizing our own hypocrisies in slamming young residents and the B&T crowd that, despite their downsides, are the main lifeblood even for many of the places everyone loves, and honestly, probably aren't much louder or more destructive than you were once upon a time.

Let's find more ways to make productive use of that anger and push for more regulation on retail rents.