Friday, December 28, 2018

Bar Virage has closed on 2nd Avenue


[Photo by Steven]

Bar Virage, the corner bistro with a popular sidewalk cafe on Second Avenue at Seventh Street, closed Sunday after service... bringing an end to its 20-some years in business. (H/T Rhonda!)

This photo by Steven last night shows that the dining room has been emptied out...



No word on why the restaurant closed. (We did spot a retail listing for the address dating back to September 2017, last updated in April. The space appears of be off-market now.)

A sign on the front door thanks patrons...



The space went under a renovation in 2014, switching from Virage to Bar Virage (featuring an expanded bar area) ... there was another renovation in 2010.


[2010]

12 comments:

Felton Davis said...

Jimmy's Pizza at 2nd and 7th was the tastiest pizza in the neighborhood, with a good crust, and cost 1.50 a slice. Why they closed is a very sad mystery.

Anonymous said...

I was neighbors with Virage for several years in the aughts, back when it used to resemble a classic bistro. Solid and reliable. Even had a nice thanksgiving dinner there once. RIP

Anonymous said...

For quite a few years, Virage (the restaurant/bistro version) was our regular go-to and it did not disappoint. Warm atmosphere, good service & great food.

At some point the owners seemed to lose interest (and were no around regularly). The place went through a couple of managers. There came a point where they hired a rather unpleasant new manager, and then we only ate there very infrequently.

When it became a BAR, we stopped going entirely, b/c the whole point was to sit down & have a nice meal in a NON-bar! But I'm sure bars make more money than restaurants in this nabe.

All I can say is that when one or more of the owners was present, the place was GREAT; when they stopped showing up, the place slid down, IMO.

The original owners were very nice, and have 2 other places on the West side (which seems to be their interest now).

Giovanni said...

So getting the liquor license and expanding the bar didn’t help? At what point will the Community Board realize that having too many liquor licenses is bad for business too? And that boring new slate gray signage which replaced the more welcoming red awning and yellow signage which worked for years) didn’t do the trick? When will store owners realize that the gray generic look with block fonts (and especially the overused and cliched Stencil font used here, which only works for shops like search & Destroy) is bad for branding? When every place looks the same your place of business is not a destination anymore, you’re just a hotel lobby or a waiting room. Put a little personality into your signage and people will remember you. For me the EV signs that are easy to remember include Yaffa Cafe, McSorleys, Coffee Shop, Trash & Vaudeville, and Block Drugstore. More personality, more neon, more color, and not generic.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a regular until it became a bar. At the time, I knew they had to change in order to keep up with the times, but all the charm left and, consequently, I never went back. Virage was always a comfortable and affordable restaurant with a friendly staff and great food. The transformation to a bar, unfortunately, just didn't work.

Anonymous said...

Its a race to the bottom for our neighborhood--competition to see who can sell the most booze the fastest. "Our" elected officials have abdicated on their responsibility to support and encourage livable streets and community business, instead of the cash machine bars now taken over.

Anonymous said...

I used to go there all the time when I lived on 2nd and 6th. so sad!

Anonymous said...

At some point "Israeli bistro" or "Israeli gastropub" was added on the marquee, at the beginning of the Israeli cuisine boom, but later was taken off.

Anonymous said...

original version was a cozy hood bistro. ended up as a jerk magnet. this is sad justice.

Anonymous said...

This is sad. Another part of our neighborhood is torn apart. What's next? Another gelato joint?

Anonymous said...

Any idea if the closure has to do with their lease being up??

Giovanni said...

For some reason this closing reminded me of The Half King on West 23rd St. in Chelsea, which is also soon closing, due to the collapse of the low and mid level art galleries in the neighborhood. The Half King was also about 20 years old, and both places started in the midst of gentrification, brought on by the art galleries making the area seem cool to investors. The Half King was more of a landmark than Virage, but both places went downhill about 5 years ago under different managers and staff, and both lost their edge and relevance as newer bars and restuarants (mostly Asian, or taquerias) opened up.

The Chelsea restaurant and gallery scene was also a victim of the success of the High Line, which attracted lots of tourists but not many regular customers, and which also caused massive new condo development and construction, which helped push many galleries out. This is according to Sebastian Junger, co-owner of The Half King, via Gothamist:

"High rents in Chelsea seem to have collapsed the art gallery industry in the area, and once those businesses shut down, foot traffic dropped," Junger told Gothamist in a phone interview Friday morning. "Compared to ten years ago, it's a bit of a ghost town in that neighborhood. Red Cat just closed, Trestle on Tenth just closed. These are longstanding, very beloved restaurants that were full any time you walked by them. And even they are closing."

“Although High Line tourists gave The Half King some business during the day, Junger said "whatever they spent on lunch wasn't enough to make up for the rent increases that the High Line triggered. The bar business is an evening trade—that's when you make the bulk of your money—and even in the summer the High Line would shut down at ten or whatever. And in the winter, forget it."

“I'm not a real estate person," Junger said. "Owning a gallery is sort of a marginal business, and once they're in a neighborhood it becomes trendy and then they can't survive the rents, and out they go. One of the reasons the galleries came is that businesses like ours came into the area around 2000. There was a gas station across the street and a car wash a block up. So we changed it, the galleries came in, and that all escalated the rent, and then the High Line finished it off. It asphyxiated itself, basically."

Everyone in the East Village should be concerned that the new East River Park plan could turn into another Chelsea-style Highline disaster for the EV, creating a little theme park like the Highline and Domino Park that attracts tourists, which attracts condo development, which raises rents, and pushes even more people out.