Tuesday, July 18, 2023

RIP Big Lee

Leroy "Big Lee" Lloyd, who owned and operated The Hard Swallow on First Avenue, died on Friday. According to an Instagram post from his wife and business partner, Maria "Sasha" Lloyd, he died of hypertensive cardiac arrest. He was 51. 

If you didn't know Big Lee, you likely saw him at some point in the neighborhood. He was 6-3, though he seemed taller with his chunky black boots. As a Vice feature once noted: "Most people were terrified of Big Lee." 

However, he was one of the kindest people you'd meet, with the sincere friendliness of a hospitality veteran. Big Lee was a former doorman/bouncer at Hogs & Heifers and Coney Island High on St. Mark's Place as well as other NYC establishments.

He and Sasha finally realized their dream of opening their own bar in 2015 with Big Lee's at 140 First Ave. between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street. After a lengthy legal battle "with a notorious bar magnate," the Hard Swallow opened in the space in 2018. (Photo below from 2018 by Steven.)
Sasha said that the Hard Swallow "will remain open while we navigate this new reality." 

Big Lee, a Coney Island native, raised two sons, Nicholas and Jacob, with Sasha. 

There's a visitation this Sunday, July 23, from 4-8 p.m. at Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home, 43 Second Ave. between Second Street and Third Street. 

A family friend launched a GoFundMe to help Sasha and her sons manage funeral expenses and other financial challenges after Big Lee's death.

Top photo via Instagram

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is so sad. The linked Vice feature is really good and worth a read. Condolences to Sasha and all their friends and loved ones. RIP.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about this. I've seen him about here and there for years. This instantly reminds me of the weather forecaster from WCBS here in Manhattan who just died suddenly at 51 over the weekend. Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. I send my heartfelt condolences to his wife, friends, and family. RIP.

Anonymous said...

RIP Big Lee - always great to speak with you over the years and being so kind. You will be missed big man!! Godspeed.

Anonymous said...

I miss you my friend.

Ron said...

Never seen him without a smile on his face, he alway seem to be happy to see you. Rest in peace my man

Anonymous said...

I gasped when I saw this. I didn't know Big Lee personally, but was always happy to see him when he stopped by DBA. He was a legend. So sorry for his family and loved ones.

Anonymous said...

My love to the family. Let us support them by acknowledging their business.

Sarah said...

51! So young!

Anonymous said...

51 is too young to die considering how long people are living right now. My heart goes out to his kids and wife. RIP buddy.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about that too. They were the same age.

Annie said...

I am saddened by this news. I had a chance encounter with him a few years back. I ran into him at the neighborhood tailor's place run by Fattah, and we chatted for a bit because I mentioned I recognized him from the Vice article. He was indeed genuinely nice and a man of style. My condolences to his family and friends.

Sarah said...

I didn't know this gentleman, but I keep looking at the first picture of this post. What swagger!

Anonymous said...

I'd see him around the neighborhood, seemed like a decent fellow, never met him though. Godspeed sir.

Lady Zombie said...

We are all so heartbroken to have lost our friend Big Lee. Much too soon.

Anonymous said...

RIP BIG LEE

Dire Wolf said...

Rest In Peace, Brother. đź–¤

Anonymous said...

I worked with him at Wild Spirits way before Hard Swallow. Good dude