Thursday, May 30, 2013
Is the end nearing for Odessa Cafe and Bar on Avenue A?
We've been hearing rumors since last summer that the Odessa Cafe and Bar's days were numbered at 117 Avenue A. Now the following item appears on the just-released CB3-SLA committee docket for June:
• 117 Ave A Food & Drink LLC, 117 Ave A (op)
There's no other information about the applicants at this point. There is, however, a newish landlord for the building. According to city documents, 117 Avenue A was sold last summer for just north of $3 million. The LLC for the buyer shares the same address as the notorious 9300 Realty (owned by Croman Realty).
And this is what we heard via Shawn Chittle last July: "There are two years left on the Odessa lease, but the hammer may fall sooner than that. Odessa owners are retired and a buyout is possible."
Michael Sean Edwards]
Previously on EV Grieve:
Building that houses Odessa Cafe and Bar for sale on Avenue A
Posted by Grieve at 6:08 AM
Labels: Odessa Cafe and Bar
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They have to fuck up every single remnant of what was left over of the REAL East Village don't they. I was in there not that long ago and was just grateful that the place still existed with the thought in the back of my mind that someone or something would come along and take this away also.
I've lived in the EV for 20 years and the reasons are becoming fewer and fewer for staying here. they really are. L.A. is looking better and better every day.
I never understand why more people don't frequent the bar. It's the kind of "real" place everyone seems to yearn for, and the place is 99% empty every time I'm there. Sad but predictable.
It's busy on the weekends when we go in for brunch... always. Presume it will go the way of all of our favorite places.
Yes, L.A., Union City, Pittsburgh? Wherevah.
The first place I ever ate in NY. As soon as I walked out a junkie barfed up in front of me. this was in 1991. I do on occasion still go in - maybe once a year. I would be sad to see it go more and more of the city I know is being obliterated... :(
I never see any people in there. Change is inevitable.
Odessa was real east village bfore it got overrun by bearded, finger tattoed freakadeaks. it hasnt been real east village for years.
I love the dark side and have been hearing recently that some of the staff are looking for other jobs.
It's one of my favorite places to go when the rest of the neighborhood is crowded an obnoxious - an oasis on Ave A. It's one of those places where they know your name and bring out your drink and food without asking if you want a menu. And I'm going to miss the Saturday night horror movies. Get in there on a Sunday night when there's likely to be some good mamba music...
it is so weird how people have their own views of gentrification
i remember the original Odessa being there - when it was own by Ukranians and the food was amazing.
then it was sold and became a greek type dinner with mediocre food next door
this odessa bar is just a sad reminder to me an empty shell of what the REAL odessa resturant USED to be
I agree with you re Odessa back in the day. Leskos was there too and they were THE best for the cheapest breakfast and lots of it, really great for a student on a low budget lol
seems that maybe 7A Cafe was the most "upscale" place then lol
Just let it die. It has had its days. Or they can cater to the new demographics and change the whole place like Sidewalk. Nostalgia will just let life passes you by.
I wish Odessa had better food, but the food and vibe has been really lame the last several years.
As to comments about the "real East Village" what the hell does that mean? At one point the East Village was mostly marshland and a burnt out old wimdmill up near 14th and C - the present location of the powerplant. Oh how I miss back then when it was the real real east village.
Everyone has his or her own concept of what the "real" East Village is...now it's seven-year-olds in Vuitton leather jackets over at Earth School... really ... go figure.
I don't think it ever was owned by Ukranians - wasn't Mike the original owner? He was Greek. And, according to people I know who tried it, was a horrible person to work for.
Anyway, he hired Ukranian cooks for a while. I'm old enough to remember when the food was good (within the limits of the cuisine, of course; "good" means "well boiled." Plus the blintzes.) But the cooks haven't been Ukranian for at least a couple of decades, and the food has gotten seriously lame. I go in there maybe once a year just to see if there's a reason to keep going in there. There never is.
But whatever's going to replace it will be worse.
My child attended the Earth School 2 years ago and can assure you I never saw a Louis Vuitton leather jacketon a kid. Mostly middle income parents trying to get by in NYC. Besides 7 year olds in Lous Vuitton jackets attend private school.
How can you mess up a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries?
Although I do feel it's a shame to lose such a long-lived and beloved place I'm not that choked up about it.
Does "vibe" and legacy really make up for bad food?
If you actually paid attention to the history of this area you might realize that the term 'East Village' wasn't in use until the mid-1960s. Not only did it refer to a physical place but also to the culture that was active in the area. That culture has now been destroyed. That's what most of these discussions are about about. You do understand that, no? The time you're referring to of marshlands and burnt out windmills, the area was still known as the Lower East Side, and the culture was just a tad different then. Get it? But that's really beside the point. The discussion here and on other blogs like Vanishing New York deal with the REAL East Village: the place and the culture that existed over the last 40-50 years. The people that were part of the time you mentioned are ALL DEAD and have no opinions about what's happening to the area. So before you decide to play a weak devil's advocate and pretend that you don't understand what everyone is complaining about, as if nothing was really changing at all, you might want to go back to your notebooks and brush up on your historical references. Thanks.
Does "vibe" and legacy really make up for bad food?
Yes because at least its affordable. If you make the mistake of eating here, you have money left over for the deli!
...I thought that about public schools in the EV (just middle class families, and I've been here more than 25 years) until the latest alternate universe was demonstrated, just recently. Just sayin'.
Does anyone even go in there?
Anonymous at 12:02,
You made a good point, but you left out that it was the real estate industry that came up with the name East Village. There's never been a "real" East Village.
EVCS is the new Earth School!
You do? I go to the restaurant side, but I've never gone to the bar side.
It's true! I frequent both sides, though I prefer the bar side in the evenings.
My son has recently been going there more often because he's so afraid it's soon to be gone. We used to go much more frequently, but I've changed my eating habits as I've gotten older and ultra fatty foods make me feel too much like I'm looking death in the eye. However, if I was still 25 I'd still be going there a lot, especially for breakfast.
If an old standby like this is going to go, at least they are going on their own terms and not because the landlord is forcing them out. People retire and have nobody to take over, fact of life. Like the Holiday, gone but not forgotten.
Really don't need a patronizing history lesson from you about the "real East Village". Fact is the land the present day east village sits on goes back a lot longer than 40-50 years and while it is fine to lament the passing of old stores and buildings and to preserve what you can but the "real" label is really lame.
I remember when the dark side was the only Odessa's and have been going there since the mid '80s. Not as much as I used to go, but I still stop in sometimes. The dark side basically saved my birthday last January. I had the bad idea of telling my friends to meet me at the newly opened Third Man on Ave C because I wanted to try the food, which was written up in about 50 "soft opening" reviews. When we got there, it was announced that they didn't have a kitchen and there would be no food (they probably had it catered for the critics at the soft openings) but we could drink. The cocktails were good but the place was full of the lamest, bobo hipsters and the waiter/part-owner was a cocky, smug Williamsburg hipster jerk. The music was a tepid mix of '80s pop music which I normally wouldn't mind, but it felt like a lazy afterthought. Like, "let's just throw on this mixed tape of '80s music." The place is supposed to invoke Adolf Loos bar in Vienna, but just felt like sitting in someone's garage in Bushwick. This is pretty much what going out in the East Village amounts to now: bourgeois Brooklyn types with smug attitudes hanging out in pretentious fake-distressed interiors.
Because we were starving, we decided to go have pierogies at the dark side of Odessa afterwards. The place had a great vibe (as it always does), the staff was friendly, and they were playing the New York Dolls and Black Flag on tinny speakers on top of the bar. It was perfection and my friends were so happy we decided to go there after our lame "artisanal bar" experience. And the pierogies were delicious. I will miss this place.
Okay, 42 year EV resident here. I miss many things that have disappeared here, and others I don't miss at all. One can't effectively argue that there is "change", "attrition", etc. But,the rapid changes in the EV are of the kind in which a subculture is not dying due to its irrelevance, or its having timed out. It has been a concentrated destruction of anything real, local, alternative, or culturally enriching. Witness the expansion of the national fast food enterprises, not one of which existed when I moved here. Witness the wholesale elimination of truly
exciting live entertainment in funky little bars & backrooms that were all affordable to common folks. And, yes there was an East Village. Not because the real estate industry named it such (the glut of rent controlled apartments here didn't exactly make this a boom for the building owners), but because it sat east of the West Village and infinitely more affordable to artists, working class types like myself, and students without rich parents and struggling to make it on their own.
Many of us worked as clerks in local stores. Yes, it was much more a "neighborhood" and yes more people knew one another. The businesses existed to serve the local population and to employ them. Most businesses her now exist to serve day trippers and beer heads who trash the place. Any shops that serve locals are up scaled for the well heeled interlopers who have moved here to get some of he "hip" that that real estate industry NOW offers to them. People here sacrifice their jobs, their businesses, and all the places they have loved for decades to make room for the young knucklehead professionals and their demands. I sometimes wish there were commemorative plaques on all the buildings here so you can read what's been lost. And knowing why should make you sad.
This is the saddest closing for me since McHales. Still New York is always changing these hipster bars and boring pretentious fake speakeasys will eventually go away to, so don't complain to much since they probably won't last half as long as Odessa... this bums me out anyway...Odessa has really weird energy which i always liked.
Odessa… Now that was Dining!
We used to head downtown to eat there around 4 nights each week between 1983-87. Steve Buscemi often sat alone in the little booth across from us, and we always managed to snag that first booth against the left wall as you walked in the front door. We would pack in 3 or 4 more of our friends — underneath the Bull Fight Picture, or looking at it, can’t recall exactly.
What I do recall with great clarity is that the service was always excellent at Odessa and the food was superb. For 3.00 dollars I would order Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Black Coffee, and those prices were incredibly low — even for the 1980s.
After dinner we would walk uptown and explore the night-time mysteries of NYC along the way; dancing at the Palladium, drinking Stoli and orange juice on the funky couches in the Michael Todd Room behind those white sheets, curtains, drop cloths, whatever they were. Milling about at the LimeLight, watching in awe as the girls piled on their lip gloss, eyeshadow, and hairspray in 80s style. Then we would wind our way home to our rent controlled railroad-flat that had four bedrooms and two of us living there on East 86th — just up from the Bremen House.
That building has since been torn down…
We also loved the glam of the Pyramid Club, which coming from San Francisco was our “home away from home.” As I recall it was free on Friday Nights (?), and there we would absolutely thrill each time we saw their fabulous floor show. The place, as we all know, was (is?) jam packed with fun, music, and generally warm and friendly artists. Just scads of happy funny people having a great time together. Oh we just loved the Pyramid Club. Odessa had that same warmth, the warmth of kind and generous people.
It was a cool time for me to live in NYC, and I am happy to have had these experiences. But I rarely “look back” at my own life and this week has been interesting because during some research, I stumbled across many articles about places we used to hang around during those years.
What puzzles me is how stunningly iconic all of these places have become. So many of them listed as the all time “best of” this and that in NYC. It is wonderful to find that the vibrance of these places, and the times, have “lived on” in our minds and hearts because we were there… But unlike this article, most of the postings I find seem to come from people who were never at these places. This begs the question, “Where are the new Odessas and Leshkos of today?”
Frankly, it appears that little has replaced what our parents and grandparents generations provided for us. All the cool and cozy ma and pa businesses that were thriving (even funny nightclubs) during that era have been swallowed up by corporate clones.
I left NYC in 1988 and drove home to San Francisco. This city held on for a long time, but in the past three years (2015-18) the place has tilted full corporate. Each day that a lease runs out another vibrant historic business shuts down. Booted out by new offshore holding companies that have gobbled up the real estate and installed their pre-fab corporate tenants who sell the public a bunch of trashy junk.
Hey, I can’t sugar coat it. :)
There are a few family spots hanging on because the buildings where they are housed were inherited by kids who maintain their family firms. But those spots are quickly becoming oases ensconced within the desolation of corporate deserts.
Let’s hope that the kids of the future figure our how to return to a life of independence and, frankly, fun. It is pretty simple to quit spending money at toxic establishments, but of course that is a choice that humans will have to make. Anyway, we sure had fun, and I am glad that so many of you were there to share it with us! It would never have been as fabulous without you who “made the scene.”
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