Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aces & Eight GM offers some clarification on previous posts, comments

Tom Michaelsen, the general manager of Aces & Eights on Avenue A, responded to our post from yesterday:

I find the entries and comments on this site to be one-sided and offensive. As an Aces & Eights employee I have a few things to clarify:

-Serving food has ALWAYS been a part of our business plan. Due to certain delays we were unable to for quite some time. As the entry above discloses, we are now. The issue should be moot.

-The average age of our clientele is between 25-30 – older than the "frathole" demographic. Also older than the NYU crowd your commentator blames. Frankly, it makes you look prejudiced, judgmental and rude to speak that way about our establishment and our clientele.

- The stipulation in our license regards having no more than two TVs over the bar. The 12 TVs you're referring to are NOT over the bar. There is actually only one TV over the bar. I am not quite sure why televisions offend CB3 so much. According to Nielsen the average American watches 151 hours of television a month. It’s a preposterous figure but I really don’t think watching a baseball game in a bar is that big of a deal.

-Regarding beer pong, it is actually one pitcher (60ounces, three pints) divided into 20 cups played by two teams of two. The average game takes approximately 20 minutes. That means four people split three pints over 20 minutes. In my experience in this industry people drink more, faster when they’re not playing.

-As far as noise is concerned, there is not one subwoofer on the premises and there has never been one. We currently function at a fairly low decibel output. In the East Village street traffic is the nature of the beast. The other evening a man in a spray-painted jalopy drove up and down Avenue A blasting CSNY's "Teach Your Children Well" on a PA system mounted on the roof of his car. I've seen gangs of motorcycles roaring up 1st Avenue. Troops of partygoers and bar patrons have been streaming up and down the streets for years. Our bar is not the predominant noise polluter in the neighborhood nor is it even a significant factor.

I know blogs don't have the same journalistic requirements that standard news media insist upon, but no one has ever come to us to talk or ask questions. No one wants our side of the story. If you'd like to do so now, perhaps to clarify some things, perhaps to see that we run a clean, friendly and accommodating operation. I would be happy to oblige.

Yours Truly,

Tom Michaelsen
General Manager
Aces & Eights LES


Bryan said...

Somehow all credibility flew out the window right about the moment he launched a reasoned defense of beer pong. It's not a frathole! It's a grown-up bar for 25-30 year olds who *miss* their favorite frathole!

NYCDreamin said...

"One-sided, offensive, prejudiced, judgemental and rude"...that's why we love you Grieve. Sounds like you struck a nerve. Keep up the good work!

Ken Mac said...

Beer pong! 12 TVs! We are not noisy! This guy doth protest too much.

Thanks for your prayers and support back at my place EV. The love of my fellow bloggers has been truly touching. I feel great!

Bowery Boogie said...

well done, sir. keep these bars in check.

Ken Mac said...

anyone heard that every Starbucks in the country is renaming itself so as to appear as a local joint?

Mykola Dementiuk said...

Oh cool, a bar where I could make noise. The hell with the neighbors, they'll be out of here soon, we got time...

Anonymous said...

He thinks he's cool with the little "LES" after the bar name. What a fuckin douche. Of course it's a frathole, and I hope all your sandal and cargo shorts wearing suburban idiots fall back in love with Murray Hill go back to Connecticut and Ohio. Nothin' wrong with watchin a lil Yanks at the bar, but 12 TV's haha, so obnoxious - trying to make your bar 20 things at once.

pinhead said...

12 TVs + beer pong = frathole.

C Everett Koop said...

beer pong may not get you drunk as fast as regular drinking, but it is a faster way to get mouth herpes.

Anonymous said...

If you encourage customers to play "beer pong" in your establishment, you are a frathole.

Tom said...

Aces & Eights LES (the LES differentiates us from our other location, FYI) has helped raise enough money to build two wells in the town of Devki, India through an organization called 1Well.

Aces & Eights LES helped raise over $1200 for UNH (United Neighborhood Houses), which is an umbrella organization that presides over the Settlement Houses of New York, a number of which are in the Lower East Side.

Yes, beer pong, that much maligned representation of jockdom and fratholiness you all despise (possibly because you didn’t make the Varsity team in high school? Don't worry, neither did I.) helped make that happen.

Now I know it isn't much. I know we could do more, but I ask, where were you? What were you doing for your community while this "frathole" was giving back?

It is fairly easy to insult me and this establishment. However, I'd prefer to have a conversation. That is why I wrote what I wrote and why I am writing this. I'd love to get ideas from the community as to how we could improve your quality of life. If anybody has anything constructive to say, I would love to hear it. If you just want to insult me and the business keep it to yourself.

I will be at Aces & Eights tonight. It's trivia night. The beer pong tables are converted and people sit and answer questions for prizes. It starts at 9pm. It's good fun. You are all welcome to join. I'll even buy you your first drink if you mention EV Grieve. My name is Tom. I am the one wearing the green t-shirt that says "Douchebag" on it. Seriously.



EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Tom. Glad to hear that A&E LES helped raise money for UNH....and is interested in working with the community...

Jeremiah Moss said...

if you embrace the term "douchebag," by wearing it on a t-shirt, why not just embrace "frat-hole" too? (frats are always raising money for charity, it creates good will, which, let's face it, they sorely need.)

i am waiting for someone to open a new bar in the neighborhood and just openly call it "The Frat-Hole." ...it could happen.

pinhead said...

12 TVs + beer pong + two wells in India = charitable frathole. Just own it.

Anonymous said...

Tom, keep the noise at your bar down (both inside and out), and don't serve people beer and send them out onto the street when it is clear they've already had too much. That's all you need to do.

Tom said...

Thank you all. Perhaps owning the term "frathole" will be within our next business plan. Personally, I chose a college without a Greek system because I didn't want certain things associated with the system. However, I will accept being referred to as a "clean, friendly, accepting and charitable frathole." But the modifiers are necessary.

As far as owning "douchebag," the t-shirt was a gift from an ex. I wear it partially out of spite, but if the shirt fits....

Regarding noise, Mr. "Anonymous": we do our best to cutoff the intoxicated. We do our best to escort the rambunctious or inebriated to taxis (I did so personally twice this past Saturday). We will continue to do so. I will also make a concerted effort to remind those exiting to remain quite and respect our neighbors.

Anymore suggestions can be sent to tom@acesandeightsnyc.com.

Thank you again to those who have helped make this a positive and productive experience


Jill said...

If there is one TV over the bar, where are the other 11? If I watch 12 TVs at once does that count toward my 151 hours of TV watching or do I get credit for 1812 hours?

Anonymous said...

The charity thing is awesome but that doesn't change the fact that you draw these annoying midtown nyc-transplant hit on your girlfriend on the streets cargo short and button down morons with the worst generic annoying personalities.

Bryan said...

Jesus, some comments here are insane. You don't like the crowd a bar is drawing, just don't go! Why spew vitriol and unfounded bs here - it makes YOU look like a d-bag, ironically. Tom, I've never been to your bar, but sounds like you guys are the least of the neighborhood's worries.

Anonymous said...

I'm with b, dudes. isn't there another "dive" up A that deserves the wrath of the EV?

Anonymous said...

"You don't like the crowd a bar is drawing, just don't go! Why spew vitriol and unfounded bs here"

I don't go, however they are negatively effecting the community and people should have a forum to discuss it. That's why we're writing here.

Personally I am tired of having these douchebags in my neighborhood, getting loaded, and trying to pick fights with me because I have tattoos and long hair. Seriously. That's why I moved away from the suburbs 15 years ago.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks, LL. Well said.

Oh, you have long hair?

Damn hippies!

Bryan said...


I'm all for a constructive forum, but maybe you want to specify how they are "negatively effecting" [sic] the community? Are people from Aces and Eights really trying to pick fights with you (maybe because you're touting "lux living" - or is that ironic?)? Do you think this is a direct result of having that specific bar and management there? I suspect not, but tell us if that's the case.

I think the bigger issue here is that some locals are unhappy with the perceived inferiority of people who frequent these bars and casually toss negative stereotypes ("douchebags", "sandal and cargo shorts wearing suburban idiots", etc.). I don't know what you were expecting moving to one of the biggest cities in the world, where there are tons and tons of people, some of whom you'd like, and some of whom you wouldn't. But they're going to be there, and I don't think you or anyone should get to dictate who lives and socializes in any neighborhood. If they're trashing the area, aggressing others, and the like, then yeah, you have a legit gripe, but singling out one bar, whose manager seems to be amenable and responsive to the community is just shallow and ultimately pointless. I'm much more inclined to sympathize with someone who's reasonable rather than someone who's so instantly bitter. It's shameful.

Anonymous said...

Well said B! I for one am also happy to embrace a manager that is willing to converse with and understand the concerns of residents within the neighborhood. B is right, that in a city like NY you can't expect to have these little homogeneous enclaves of people. You're going to encounter people you don't like and if you can't cope with that, then you do end up coming across as the one that is closed minded.

Tom said...

What I find interesting is that it seems as if those most against the perceived segregationalism of a "frathole" are in point of fact the most segregationist.

I welcome all sorts of people into my bar. As a New Yorker for my 29 years I know people come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colors and creeds.

To be perfectly honest, the only colors I see as a businessman are the white of a patron's smile and the green of their money on my bar.

This bar may attract a certain crowd. Perhaps that crowd is even, "un-east village" but if you're so concerned with being judged for your long-hair and tattoos why would you judge my patrons for their cargo shorts and button-downs? Judge not lest ye be judged yourself. No?

I have frequently found that if you give people a chance, regardless of the way they look or dress, you can be pleasantly surprised by how much you have in common.

I challenge those who despise what this bar represents to them to come down. Find me. I'll walk you around and introduce you to some people. I am not saying you're going to meet your new best friend, but you never know.

However, I doubt it will happen. For all the publicity and response this thread has received, not one person showed up last night for their free drink. I was disappointed. I was looking forward to meeting some of you.


Bryan said...

Tom, I live just across the river, but if the free drink offer is still good, I'll gladly take you up on it next time I'm in the hood. I applaud your willingness to get involved here and apparently sincere interest in finding common ground with even the harshest commenters here. I wish every bar owner/manager took a similar approach.

Jill said...

B- if you read this blog, and others like it, you will see that Aces and Eights is certainly not being singled out. The bar issue has been a problem in this neighborhood for several years, and it is getting worse rather than better despite the endless Community Board meetings, fights over liquor licenses, 500 foot rules, rezoning etc etc etc.

They are simply part of a herd of bars that are the only ones that can pay the exorbitant rents that the landlords have figured out they can get, but only from bars. If you lived here you would understand that what we have lost to them makes it even worse - we have no butcher, fishmonger or bagel store, among other services. Fresh fruits and vegetables are no longer available on every corner. You can't even play the numbers any more (well maybe you can but not so much). Try to find head of lettuce on Avenue A that doesn't come from Key Food, for example.

If they were the only bar in town nobody would care. But they are one of a million bars, that all together are making life for the people that live here, and moved here well before any of those bars were a concept in any frathole loving mind, irritating (to be polite).

To you, this is a big city where if you make it here you can make it anywhere. To many people it is our homes, it is where we raise our children, work all day, paint, make music, write, blog, party and socialize with our neighbors and friends, just like any other neighborhood.

Therefore it is our obligation to work to make it the place we want it to be, just like any other neighborhood. Just because we are in New York doesn't mean we give up all our rights to have a say in what happens around us because we live in a place that has little zoning and where the dollar is king above all else. Hell, in Coral Gables Florida you can't park a pickup truck anywhere visible. And you have to have a red tile roof. Other towns try to control their environment too.

The same way people fought to get rid of the drug dealers and gangs, the same way people fought against park curfews, the same way people worked to turn empty crack dens into playgrounds, bad schools into good schools, where we live is only what we make it.

Sorry to ramble, I will stop now.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Jill beat me to it. She's right, b. You live across the river, so you're one of these b&t's that invade the LES/EV over the weekend and some weeknights to party without any respect to the residents that live here. You treat the neighborhood as your personal playground. This isn't some MIdwestern town where the drinking establishments is on a main street where it's not a residential neighborhood. People live here and have lived here before all these bars started opening up. SO the argument that if the people don't like the noise or the bars around this area, then they should have not moved in or should move out is moot. I'm sorry but this is home. Not until drinking establishments like fratboy and douchebags, yes, fratboy and douchebags, drinking establishments like Aces & Eights open up in your neighborhood, then try to defend Tom.

ANd Tom,
I'm sure your intentions here are somewhat earnest, but you have to admit that you duped and manipulated the CB in providing you with a license by not mentioning that you'll have multiple TV's and beer pongs (which would have been a dead give-away on what type of a place you would have opened) in your establishment, and saying that you'd be providing "food". And that is your side of the story, that's why no one botherd asking. You would have just given them the run-around like the way you did with the CB. If you really want to help the "help" neighborhood, then turn your place around into a beer &wine casual dining place or even a jazz bar. There are enough fratboy joints to go around in the LES/EV. And you'd have better probability of establishing a loyal clientele, as supposed to the fratboys that once they finally grow-up (if they ever do) they won't come to your place anymore. Then you'd just have to serve another generation of douchebags while you get old. Point being you can't grow old with the present clienteles. And as for the segregationist, if we are discriminating against the offensive, rude, disrespectful, self-entitled people that trash the neighborhood, then yeah cal me segregationist, better than a douchebag or a fratboy. Furthermore, I'm sure you are just using blogs like this and Eater to drum up controversy for publicity. You said it yourself: you're a businessman; you're happy when you see green. Also, even you're ex-gf gave you a shirt that says douchebag. That couldn't be further from the truth. I'm sure any other argument form you will again be rhetorical, just like the rest of them. When all is said and done, you may put a lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. The only day I'm ever going to pay visit in that establishment, is the day when it closed.

Thank You,

Anonymous said...

Schadenfreud got it right. These comments from the bar owner and his pals are for PR, straight up. What he doesn't get is that it's bad PR. The whole thing just makes the bar look worse. Stop digging your grave dude.

Bryan said...

"he's right, b. You live across the river, so you're one of these b&t's that invade the LES/EV over the weekend and some weeknights to party without any respect to the residents that live here. You treat the neighborhood as your personal playground. This isn't some MIdwestern town where the drinking establishments is on a main street where it's not a residential neighborhood. People live here and have lived here before all these bars started opening up. SO the argument that if the people don't like the noise or the bars around this area, then they should have not moved in or should move out is moot. I'm sorry but this is home. Not until drinking establishments like fratboy and douchebags, yes, fratboy and douchebags, drinking establishments like Aces & Eights open up in your neighborhood, then try to defend Tom."

Anonymous, this is exactly the kind of lazy (and incorrect) stereotypes I'm talking about. I live in Williamsburg, for crying out loud, and lived in Manhattan for many years, so I'm not exactly "one of these b&ts that invade the LES/EV... to party without any respect," nor am I from the "Midwest," whatever ridiculous things you think that might imply. What a hateful meme to propagate. I know fully well the damage that some careless bars and clientele can inflict on a neighborhood, but this is all very misplaced. You're angry, perhaps understandably so, but are lashing out without much thought - in my experience, a neighborhood suffers even more when people adopt this attitude. I live in a neighborhood with a high number of bars per capita as well, and obviously there are hits and misses. I NEVER said you should never have moved in or should move out - I said if you don't like a bar, don't patronize it. If you see that it's clearly damaging the neighborhood (and I don't mean by attracting people wearing cargo shorts and sandals, I mean by neglecting the sidewalks, repeat and serious noise violations, letting intoxicated patrons get away with highly questionable public acts, etc.) then single out those establishments and staff. Complaining about the "bar scene" is silly and ultimately fruitless.

Jill, I get what you're saying (and I do read this blog and others like it), but there are two things here: 1) if the community feels it lacks fresh groceries and there really is a demand for it, what are you doing to speak out about this and make it a reality? I see far more empty rhetoric on this kind of thing than actual movement to get things done. 2) You can't tell me these bars are comparable to drug dealers and crack dens; that's sensationalizing the issue a bit, don't you think? The fact is, while the bars do draw non-locals, they also don't survive without a fair amount of local patronage, which means that your neighbors are speaking with their wallets, and there's clearly a market for a fair amount of these bars. Until there's evidence to the contrary (and again, this is something you all can dictate pretty easily), the status quo will be the status quo.

Tom said...

Jill & Schadenfreude (which for those who don't know means taking pleasure in someone else's sorrow (not exactly a noble nomenclature)),

I respect your points and opinions. I did not use EV Grieve or Eater for publicity. In fact quite the opposite is the case, you (meaning LES zealots) brought the fight to me. I merely took the time to respond because I found it one-sided.

I will not pretend to be an idiot. I did consider the public relations impact my response would have. To fully divulge, I am actually in a Master's program studying Corporate Communication, at everyone's favorite university, NYU. Anybody who has studied the field knows that before you can talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. The ethos of PR and Corp. Comm. is to "do the right thing." On this very blog I got kudos from a neighbor for responding to a specific HVAC noise complaint. People asked me to be community conscious and I can prove that I have been and I have expressed the honest desire to do so again. That is the truth. The fact that this discussion is happening in the public eye is NOT my doing. It is YOUR doing. I would much prefer that this were not the case. I would much prefer that my bar's name were never mentioned on EV Grieve in any context at all frankly. I would be much happier to go about my business without scandal. It is too late for that now.

Personally, I think that if CB3 and the Lower East Side took the effort and passion they display when dictating what they DON'T want and used it toward what they DO want, Jill would have her bagel shop, and SchadenFreude would have the jazz club.

The letters and petitions against a place will only shut the gates for the time being, what will take the place of my bar? Probably another bar.

What has taken the place of the old Two Boots restaurant next to the Essex Card Shop across Avenue A from us? Nothing so far.

What will take the place of the little shop next to the old Two Boots, which just put up a "Final Sale" sign? Who knows? My guess is something that is profitable and can afford the ever-increasing commercial rent.

Perhaps if you petitioned your representatives to grant subsidies and incentives toward businesses you DO want, you wouldn't be stuck with businesses you DON'T want? What do I know?

Grieving is all well and good. It led to this debate. It got two sides talking that were not talking before. I want that. But the time for grieving is over. The time for name-calling is over. Let's try and make progress.

Once again, I offer you my ear. Since these posts I have not received a single visit from an angry neighbor nor a single complaint email.

All I have received is angry grandstanding and divisive soapbox politics behind the veil of a computer screen.

I'm not asking you to come at me with clenched fists so we can duke it out. I will probably lose. This is just a job for me and I am just trying to do what's in my best interest, which is to keep my neighbors happy. If you can think of a specific, legitimate way for me to do that. I will be happy to do what is in my limited power to oblige.

Yours Truly,

Tom Michaelsen
GM - Aces & Eights LES

Anonymous said...

As a longtime reader, first time commenter, I am somewhat embarrassed by the comments in this section. I do not believe Tom is commenting to drum up publicity. How many people do you think actually read EV Grieve (please take no offense to this as I read it daily and love the site) and are the readers Tom’s bar’s target audience? Do you really think he is commenting in order to convince me to find a baby sitter and get drunk at his bar with people 20 years my junior? I always looked at this website as a way to see what is affecting my neighborhood and potentially see what can be done about it. This bar is looking to make nice with the neighborhood and try its best to create a symbiotic relationship. For anyone who said that the bar lied to CB3, well shame on CB3 for doing zero homework. Any person could have gotten on their website and saw exactly what was moving to the neighborhood by looking at their UES bar. Was I the only one that rolled my eyes when I simply googled the bars name after the sign went up? The point is this, they are here and trying to work together. Calling them douchebags and frat boys is not constructive and will only cause them to get defensive or just forget about trying to help. Tom should not be blamed for landlord’s greed. They are and will always be the real problem.

Tom, your offer for a free drink at 9pm on a Tuesday night is misguided. None of us want anything for free, let alone a drink. Potentially a meeting at an earlier hour, without a packed bar would have better attendance. Also, feel free to attend community board meetings and the like. That is where you will get the most feedback and will probably achieve the most goodwill from the community if that is what you’re looking for. If you are actually looking to drum up publicity, then you are an idiot douchebag. Also, we don’t care what you’re studying at NYU. It doesn’t make you an expert on anything other than an overpriced education and stating that you go there hurts your appeal. Sorry, but it’s true.

B, you’ve never been to the bar and are not from, nor do you live in, the neighborhood. Why are you commenting? You’re adding little to nothing to this conversation.

Bryan said...

Anonymous, I agree with you up until the last paragraph. Are you joking? I used to live in the neighborhood and care about it, not to mention at least two people have agreed with my thoughts here. Who are you to tell me I shouldn't be commenting on a blog? It's exactly that kind of elitist, censorship-oriented mindset that I think will ultimately do more harm to the neighborhood than a bar.