Monday, December 4, 2017

[Updated] New owner lined up for the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place

An applicant is expected to appear before the CB3-SLA committee this month for a new liquor license for the Grassroots Tavern at 20 St. Mark's Place.

According to the questionnaire (PDF here) posted for the public on the CB3 website, the applicant is Richard Precious. The paperwork describes this as "a sale of assets."

Precious started a mini chain of bars called the Ginger Man in Texas in 1985 (named after the J.P. Donleavy novel). He opened a Ginger Man on East 36th Street near Fifth Avenue in 1996. (He sold the Texas bars in 2000. There are also Ginger Man bars in Greenwich and Norwalk, Conn.)

The questionnaire does not specify if the basement-level Grassroots space would be renamed or renovated. There's a mention of food ("casual restaurant fare"). The proposed hours remain roughly the same (4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Friday instead of the current 3 p.m. to 4 a.m.), but with an earlier start on Saturday and Sunday (1 p.m.). The live jazz performances on Sunday evening will continue, per the questionnaire. (And it looks as if the lone TV will remain.)

[EVG file photo]

No word yet when — or if — the change in ownership will occur and what type of modifications may occur at the Grassroots, which opened here between Second Avenue and Third Avenue in 1975.

As for what might be in store, here's an overview of the NYC Ginger Man via New York magazine:

As much a pub as a Mercedes SUV is a jeep, the Ginger Man feels like Euro Disney's vision of the classic Irish watering hole. Nothing is done in half measures, whether it's the mind-boggling selection of beers and single malts or the JFK, Jr.-look-alike bartenders. And while the clientele is all business during the day, this vision of J. Press heaven loosens its tie and kicks off its heels at night. On a recent visit, suit-and-tie singles, post-MSG sports fans and an impromptu wrap party for an off-Broadway play co-existed peacefully, with more than enough wandering room and cozy corners for all.

A change in the GR status quo isn't a big surprise. In January 2016, Klosed Properties bought the landmarked 20 St. Mark's Place from Jim Stratton, who is also the majority owner of the Grassroots. At that time, a source with some background of the deal said that the bar had a lease for the next five years, with an option after that for renewal.

However, there have been unsubstantiated-to-date rumors in circulation that the current incarnation of the Grassroots would close before the end of its current lease.

Meanwhile, several applicants had been looking at opening a bar-restaurant in the upstairs space that previously housed Sounds. However, those plans never materialized.

The December CB3-SLA committee meeting is Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Perseverance House Community Room, 535 E. Fifth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Updated 12/7

The bar's Facebook page announced tonight that the Grassroots will close after service on New Year's Eve. More to come...

Previously on EV Grieve:
20 St. Mark's Place, home of the Grassroots Tavern, has been sold

Your chance to live in this historic home above the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place


Anonymous said...

were it not 8-something a.m. i would literally be setting down my coffee to go get a beer at grassroots right now. what the HELL? nothing gold, pony boy! DAMMIT!

Anonymous said...

Oh no.

I went to the Ginger Man a couple of times in its early days and it was a nice place to go in Midtown. MIDTOWN. Not the EV.

Don't expect Grassroots to stay the same. It will get polished up, the TV replaced, the jukebox updated to include some Taylor Swift and it will become as generic as all the other 'destination' bars in our ruined neighborhood.


Gojira said...

So basically that nice grungy old blue-collar interior will give way to crappy "upscaling" meant to attract tourists and NYU students. Oh swell.

Anonymous said...

Gojira you obviously haven't been in the Roots in a long time. It attracts NYU and Cooper Union students and faculty and, because of good feedback on lots of websites, it attracts a steady stream of foreigners. Maybe when it was a Ukraine bar years ago it attracted a blue collar only crowd. In my almost 40 years of going to the Grass Roots it has been a nice mixture of blue collar workers, writers, theater people, students, professors, and professionals. It has been a bar without any fuss or hoopla which has accepted the LGBTQ community. It will always be haunted, no matter what the new owners do to clean it up (yes let's get the men's toilets flushing), by the spirits of bartenders like Jimmy Rush, Karen, and, the deeply missed John Leeper.

Anonymous said...

Will This be the reborn Aztec Lounge of days gone by

Gojira said...

Anon. 12 PM - I am not talking about the place attracting a blue collar crowd, I know that is long gone from this city. What I am talking about is the interior itself, which is similar to so many old, yes, blue collar bars that used to exist, with the dark wood, carved bar, tin ceiling, old plank floors, the smell of stale beer. *That* is what I meant when I referred to blue collar.

cmarrtyy said...

Just another theme bar in plasticland.

Eden Bee said...

Well that's the end of that one. Heard about this a few months ago from a friend...said they were going to try and make it there a few times this coming year as he heard some big(and bad) changes were about to happen pretty soon. Haven't been in there myself in maybe a decade but always sad when an old place goes bur sadly, it's expected now.
Ah so glad Coal Yard is still here...Or Ibar as it is now being called by the regulars.

Anonymous said...

How do they expect to cook food in this place? No venting; no gas lines for cooking. And where?

Unknown said...

I guess I need to come pick up my husband's ponytail from behind the bar...:( It's been hanging there for 20 years, since Maria cut it off of him the night we got engaged. Somehow thought it would be there a little piece of my heart.

Anonymous said...

I am the daughter of John Leeper who worked there till months before his death. Those were the happiest years of his life. If they change the Grassroots They are changing history! But we will never forget the great times there!

Anonymous said...

When the Grass Roots first opened, there was a small kitchen opposite what is now the dart area. You could get burgers. For a little while in that back space some of the theater patrons of the bar arranged readings of plays. While I appreciate blue collar decor--let's face it--in the last few years the management let the place run down: for at least one year only one urinal in the men's room flushed. The bar stools were beyond being in a state of disrepair--you couldn't sit on many of them without tearing your clothes. And still the place maintained an aura--yes because until recently the prices were about the best you could get. It was also a bar where you could strike up a conversation with people you didn't know--and more often than not they were interesting people that you would gravitate to the next time you came in.

Anonymous said...

Wow 3:27 Aztec bar that was the place

raplhy said...

Damn ... my past of the 80’s is truly gone . What pyramid goes next ? Then 7b . I mean there’s not too many left . 😞. Just glad I lived all of it when it was real and keep my memories

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Grassroots was the first bar I visited after moving to NYC. Not knowing anything about it, I thought it was an activist hangout based on the name. Good times, good memories.

Anonymous said...

Hi J!

It was always a great time when your dad was working! We loved his stories of growing up in Kansas and working at after-hours joints in NYC! He knew more about horses and horse racing than anyone i ever knew!

While he was a great storyteller, he took the time to listen to me and could help put something going on in my life in perspective.

I feel blessed that i had a chance to know him. Hope that he has a nice cold bottle of Bud wherever he is now!

All the best to you and your family


Jared said...

Where does the name come from?