Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy
Baker Falls is an ambitious new project that combines an all-day cafe, bar and live music via the Knitting Factory brand at the former Pyramid Club at 101 Avenue A.
East Village resident Nick Bodor, who has owned and operated several local businesses in the past 25-plus years, is behind this new concept that's expected to open in the first quarter of 2023. (He received approval from CB3 for a new liquor license in December 2021.)
"We plan to operate a café, with coffee service during the day, happy hour, live performances, DJs — all with a rock-n-roll feel," he said during an interview with EVG contributor Stacie Joy last week.
Bodor previously sought to revive and combine several of his former concepts, including the music venue, bar and cafe Cake Shop (2005-2016 on Ludlow Street) and alt-coffee (1995-2007 on Avenue A). However, CB3 did not approve this for the former Meatball Shop space on Stanton Street in the spring of 2021.
"Once I saw Pyramid Club was closing, I thought it would be great to just buy that. I sent around a letter looking for investors to my circle of friends and contacts," said Bodor, who's an owner of the Library on Avenue A. "Historically, my projects have been underfunded, and if I'm ready to do another project I wanted a cushion, a certain amount of money. So friends were willing to invest, and then Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis reached out and said he was interested."
The Pyramid closed this past October after 40-plus years in business between Sixth Street and Seventh Street. The club ushered in an era of socially-conscious drag performances featuring Lady Bunny, Lypsinka and RuPaul, among many other trailblazers. As a music venue, the Pyramid hosted Nirvana's first NYC show in 1989.
Bodor outlined his plans for the two-level space in a building that dates to the 1870s and falls within the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District... and provided Stacie with a tour of the former Pyramid before the renovations commenced.
"Upstairs, we aren't planning on making too many changes. The bar stays where it is," he said. "We want people who have been to the space in the last 40 years to recognize it. You will see the old 1987 Knitting Factory logo up in the back. Initial programming will be suggested by Knitting Factory Presents, but we also plan to have strong LGBTQ programming and emerging comics and hope to inspire young bands."
Bodor is also planning on some all-ages Sunday matinees. And while there won't be an '80s Dance Party, a staple of the former Pyramid, he may host a Goth Night.
And on the lower level?
"Downstairs has a 68-seat capacity, and it's what I call a 'fever-dream' or manor house in terms of décor. Decrepit-looking wallpaper, vintage lamps and amps," he said. "We plan to have tables and chairs and great curated playlists."
The business will also be a family affair. Bodor's 19-year-old son Angus will have a hand in the day-to-day activities here. In August, the Knitting Factory's only NYC outpost closed after 13 years of hosting live music and comedy on Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn.
"It felt like the right time to be back in Manhattan, and this location is and has always been a hotbed for artists, musicians, locals, students and community with a melting pot of so many different cultures," said Margolis, who was born and raised around the corner on Sixth Street, in an email to EVG.
"Plus, I saw some of the coolest shows at Pyramid decades ago, and I grew up in that area — a lot of memories of running the streets free as a kid. Way before cell phones and the internet. Way before it was 'cool,'" he said. "When I think about the roots of the Knitting Factory in New York, I think 'grit' and back to basics. So here we are."
For Bodor, he's excited about creating a new era with Baker Falls.
"We want to honor the history of the Pyramid Club but in a new way," he said. "This isn't just a club — it’s a communal gathering space. Food service, coffee, drinks — a community hub where you can meet and work. We want it to be multi-generational."