[Reader-submitted photo this evening]
Manitoba's is now closed at 99 Avenue B.
Proprietor Handsome Dick Manitoba confirmed the news about his namesake bar, where framed photos of punk icons lined the walls here between Sixth Street and Seventh Street these past 20 years.
A bar employee said that Tuesday was the last night in business.
Manitoba said that he was in the dark about the official reasons for the closure. In a text exchange via Instagram, Manitoba said that his role of late had been working the front of the house — "greeting people, bringing people in ... telling stories, laughing, watching Yankees games, listening to music." He continued, saying that he "had a big rock-star partner" who had previously suggested that they sell the bar, though a sale never materialized. He said that other people were managing the paperwork and legal matters.
"So my guess — this is not a fact — is [the partner] said just close it down. It’s an educated guess because nobody else had the right to say that unless it was people we owed money to." (There had been financial difficulties in the past stemming in part from a lawsuit involving the Americans with Disabilities Act. A successful crowdfunding campaign in early 2015 helped raise more than $30,000.)
Here's part of a message that Zoe Hansen, a former owner and partner of Manitoba's, wrote on Facebook:
Yes, MANITOBA’S Bar has closed its doors after 20 years. As you all know I managed, & worked from day one with Richard Manitoba to bring a real down & dirty fun Rock N Roll Bar to the East Village. I met Richard in that bar 20 years ago. Many have met their ex's in that one small room after I. Giving it that eternal pivotal moment we can each cherish, or not. However your memory sways, I give respect to a scene now total gone from a once glorious block.
Thank you to my friends who’ve supported the bar over the two decades it survived.
She asked that the press not contact her — that this was her comment on the closing.
For his part, Manitoba called it a "great disappointment that after 20 years I couldn’t keep my bar going in spite of my age — as young and strong as I am."
In a follow-up message, he said that the Manitoba's website will live on.
"In spite of the fact that we’ve closed, we know that people from all over America and all over the world have excitedly entered our doors for 20 years," he said. "This wasn’t a 'bar' to them. It was a special, relaxed home away from home."
Previously on EV Grieve:
Manitoba's is in danger of closing on Avenue B