Showing posts with label Mars Bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mars Bar. Show all posts

Sunday, July 25, 2021

XOXO 2nd Avenue

Last Sunday, we marked the 10th anniversary of the closing of Mars Bar on Second Avenue's southwest corner at First Street. 

On this occasion, Julius Klein shared the two photos below of what the northwest corner of Second Avenue and First Street looked like for a time in the 1990s ... when he ran XOXO, a performance space and gallery.

This first shot is from 1997, three months before workers demolished the building to make way for part of the Avalon Bowery Place luxury complex...
And this next photo — circa 1992 — is looking to the northwest from Houston and Second Avenue... Roy, a handyman at Mars Bar, attends to owner Hank Penza's car...
Here's a current-day view of the NW corner of Second Avenue and First Street (thanks to Steven for the pic)...

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Thanks for the memories: Mars Bar closed 10 years ago today

True story: Mars Bar closed for good 10 years ago today on Second Avenue at First Street.

It's one of those kinda-seems-like-yesterday moments. I recall Goggla emailing me with the news...
The place was closing anyway to make way for the 12-story apartment building on the lot... But people thought that they had the rest of the summer of 2011 to enjoy the bar... or at least go to it.

However, a DOH visit did them in on July 18, 2011 — 54 violation points and mentions of every known type of fly. (Filth flies! Flesh flies!) And apparently, owner Hank Penza said the hell with it. And closed. 

For a time, the place was the greatest, strangest, dirtiest bar around the neighborhood. 

Here's what the Times had to say about Mars Bar once ... 
[I]n its prime it was perhaps the epitome of an East Village bar: menacing, dark and covered inside and out by graffiti, stickers and impromptu spray-painted artworks. Its forbidding restroom was an urban legend in and of itself.
It wasn't always that way ... per a different feature at the Times:
When the bar opened in 1984 ... the facade was gleaming. "We thought, 'Oh no, another sushi bar; there goes the neighborhood,'" said Jim Sizelove, who was part of the rowdy art scene called the Rivington School.
We can relive the bar here for a moment... in 2016, East Village-based filmmaker Jenny Woodward released an entertaining video short titled "Last Days of the Mars Bar," featuring interviews with Penza in the days leading up to the bar's closure.

Penza shares some colorful anecdotes (and perhaps tall tales), such as how the bar got its name and how the first art appeared on the bar's walls.

And Penza doesn't seem all that broken up about the end of days here.

"Fuck the bar. What am I, crazy? There's a beginning and an end. You hear? The Mars Bar will live forever and I'll die... I feel like there's a beginning and an end, and this is the end to another chapter in my life."

Penza died on Oct. 29, 2015. He was 82.



Here's a rather serene slice-of-Mars-Bar life showing a few people quietly sitting while David Bowie's "China Girl" plays on the jukebox. (Thanks Alex!) The video isn't dated ... it was uploaded in April 2012. It's aptly titled in part "Sweet Memories."

And don't forget "My Mars Bar Movie," the 87-minute documentary directed by the late Jonas Mekas of the nearby Anthology Film Archives.

The corner storefronts where Mars Bar stood were eventually demolished in late 2011/early 2012 to make way for the residential building called Jupiter 21. The corner space now houses a TD Bank and Kollectiv, "an urban retreat center" that features an herbal pharmacy and spa.

Anyway, thanks for the memories...

Sunday, June 7, 2020

We'll always have the Mars Bar



The Brant Foundation, which has a state-of-the-art security system over on Sixth Street, put up some low-tech plywood this past week... as other properties did around the neighborhood ...



And the first message to arrive on the plywood (on the Seventh Street side between Avenue A and First Avenue): "I miss Mars Bar" with a frowny face...



Mars Bar closed on July 18, 2011, according to the tally marks on our wall.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Mars Bar lives! (in a penthouse suite in Times Square)


[Mars Bar photo courtesy of Karla and James Murray]

The dear old Mars Bar (RIP July 2011) over on Second Avenue and First Street has been immortalized in an unexpected place — a penthouse suite at the recently renovated Row NYC hotel on Eighth Avenue...

An EVG reader shared this find... behold the Penthouse Suite, with an entry featuring a life-sized Mars Bar storefront photo-printed on the wall...


[Click to go big]

Per the Row NYC website:

For a truly unforgettable stay, our Penthouse Suites are the ultimate uptown indulgence. Featuring one or two-bedroom options with separate living areas – along with a wet bar and kitchenette for entertaining – they hold our most-desired accommodations with top-notch city views and unparalleled touches to make your stay even more extraordinary.

Per the EVG reader: "If the guests only knew..."

If you're unfamiliar with the Mars Bar, well, it was a shithole — the best, really. (I write that with great affection.)


[Mars Bar photo by Eden from 2009]

It never reopened after a DOH inspector found 850 (or so) fruit flies, standing water, cracked walls and other unsanitary conditions in July 2011. What else was new?

Anyway, for upwards of $500, you can see the Mars Bar on your penthouse walls.

And Mars Bar owner Hank Penza was right. In an interview leading up to the closure, he said: "Fuck the bar. What am I, crazy? There's a beginning and an end. You hear? The Mars Bar will live forever and I'll die." (Penza died in October 2015 at age 82.)

The corner storefronts where Mars Bar stood were eventually demolished in late 2011/early 2012 to make way for the 12-story residential building Jupiter 21. The corner space now houses a TD Bank and The Alchemist's Kitchen, a cafe and shop that sells botanical medicines, herbal remedies and whole plant beauty products.

Previously on EV Grieve:
At the Mars Bar yesterday, the DOH found 850 fruit flies (or so)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flashbacks: An afternoon sitting at the Mars Bar listening to David Bowie



Last week, we posted a new video short by East Village-based filmmaker Jenny Woodward titled "Last Days of the Mars Bar."

In the entertaining 8-minute video, Hank Penza, the owner of the Mars Bar who died last November, shared some history of the corner space on Second Avenue and East First Street.

Now our friend Alex found a 90-second clip on YouTube ... a rather serene slice-of-Mars-Bar life showing a few people quietly sitting while David Bowie's "China Girl" plays on the jukebox.

The video isn't dated ... it was uploaded in April 2012 — about nine months after the Mars Bar closed for good. It's aptly titled in part "Sweet Memories."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Video: 'Last Days at the Mars Bar'



East Village-based filmmaker Jenny Woodward has released an entertaining new video short titled "Last Days of the Mars Bar," featuring interviews with owner Hank Penza in the days leading up to the bar's closure in July 2011.

Penza shares some colorful anecdotes (and perhaps tall tales), such as how the bar got its name and how the first art appeared on the bar's walls on Second Avenue at East First Street.

And Penza doesn't seem all that broken up about the end of days here.

"Fuck the bar. What am I, crazy? There's a beginning and an end. You hear? The Mars Bar will live forever and I'll die... I feel like there's a beginning and an end, and this is the end to another chapter in my life."

Penza died last Oct. 29. He was 82.


Last Days at The Mars Bar from jenny woodward on Vimeo.


The corner storefronts where Mars Bar stood were eventually demolished in late 2011/early 2012 to make way for the 12-story residential building Jupiter 21. The corner space now houses a TD Bank and The Alchemist's Kitchen, a cafe and shop that sells botanical medicines, herbal remedies and whole plant beauty products.

H/T Goggla

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Alchemist's Kitchen takes over the short-lived NatureEs space on East 1st Street


[EVG photo from October]

A new tenant has taken over for the short-lived NatureEs, the juice bar/cafe/wellness center combo at 21 E. First St. in Jupiter 21, the residential building that rose from the former Mars Bar and several other businesses on Second Avenue and between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

Signage arrived late last week for The Alchemist's Kitchen...





Here's more about them via their website:

The Alchemist's Kitchen is dedicated to connecting you with the power of plants. We work with the finest herbalists who are producing high quality botanical medicines, herbal remedies, and whole plant beauty products. We celebrate artisanship, sustainability, and conscious living. We look to support the global need to increase plant diversity, and the sharing of ancient wisdom from indigenous cultures.

We believe strongly in the education and instruction on the use of all whole plant formulations and herbal remedies. We consider our suppliers part of our extended family, interactive, collaborative....creating one chain of supply from seed to tincture. We work closely with teachers and botanical experts, many of whom are our suppliers, to educate and inform our community.



It appears they've been in business online for some time, part of the Evolver Learning Lab... and this is their first brick-and-mortar (sorry, hate that term) storefront. An EVG reader stopped by the space last week, where he found them still getting up and running. Among other items, they are selling to-go bottles of REBBL elixirs, such as Turmeric Golden Milk and Maca Mocha.

For now, the Kitchen, which will eventually include a tonic bar, has limited hours... that will expand in the week ahead...



There are also an array of events/lectures at the space coming up...(you can find that list here).

As previously reported, there were plans plan to convert the NatureEs space into a Spanish bistro. The applicants withdrew from the November 2015 CB3-SLA meeting. The name of former Mars Bar owner Hank Penza, who died this past Oct. 29, is one of four principals listed on the active liquor license for the space.



Several people had noted that the address was home to some kind of invite-only club in the basement space. Not sure of the status of that...

Previously on EV Grieve:
NatureEs calls: About the organic cafe coming to where Mars Bar 2.0 was in the works

A quick look inside NatureEs, the new organic cafe coming to 21 E. 1st St.

At NatureEs, the Mars Bar replacement that apparently is no longer open

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

To Hank

A photo posted by Lulu (@lulukayr) on


Someone decided to pay his or her respects to the late Hank Penza, who owned Mars Bar among many others during his life, here at the Centre-fuge-curated rotating outdoor gallery/construction trailer on East First Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue …

Previously on EV Grieve:
RIP Hank Penza

Thursday, November 5, 2015

RIP Hank Penza


[Photo by Goggla]

Word is circulating that Hank Penza, who owned the Mars Bar, died on Oct. 29.

There isn't much information about his passing at the moment. A member of the Facebook group "Mars Bar was a riot in the Nineties" confirmed his death with a Penza family member. He was believed to be 81 or 82.

His bar ownership began in 1957 on the Bowery Among them: Hank’s Crystal Palace, Willie’s, the Penthouse and Bowery East.

Penza opened the Mars Bar in 1982 (or 1984 depending on the source) on Second Avenue and East First Street, where it continued until its demise in July 2011.

In 2005, the Observer published a colorful feature on Penza. To some excerpts:

His father came to New York from Italy as a boy and worked on the Brooklyn Bridge before serving in World War I. He was, said Mr. Penza, a “great provider” and a “stark-raving-mad right-winger” who hated Franklin Roosevelt and the smell of perfume.

Young Hank started working early. He and his pals in Corona, Queens, would go “junking”: loading up a horse and wagon with milk bottles and stuff to sell.

Soon he was helping out at crap games, doing what were called “mopey pinches”: Whenever the bookmakers got busted, they’d pay Hank $50 to go to court, and he’d be back on the street in hours.

And!

At 19, he got a $200-a-week job at the “21” Club. He wore a tux, took reservations and ran errands. If a man dining with his wife needed to make contact with his mistress at the Stork Club, he’d deliver the message.

He joined a crew called the 40 Thieves and started making money by “cleaning up” bars (i.e., getting rid of undesirables). Once they spent two weeks getting rid of some ruffians from a bar by sending them to another one across the street. A month later, they paid the ruffians $3 each to return to the first bar so the 40 Thieves could get the job back.

But he said he declined offers to join the Mafia.

“Nobody can make me, man,” he said. “I’m a made man. My name is Penza-we’re made, period. We don’t need that shit. That’s all movie stuff.”

His reputation grew. Two British guys gave him $1,500 to clean up their bar on lower Fifth Avenue, which had been overrun by pimps.

In 1957, he bought a bar at 12 Bowery and renamed it Henry’s.

After the Mars Bar closed, rumors circulated that Penza would open a new bar nearby. Thiose plans never materialized, though he was reportedly a partner in the business that eventually opened in the Jupiter 21 building on Second Avenue and East First Street.

Back to the Observer profile…

Still, he said, even now, New York is the only place to be. “I love it,” he said. “It’s the greatest place in the fucking world. There’s no place like this, man, and I’ve been all over the world. I love this city because they make me somebody. When I go somewhere else, they don’t treat me as well as they do. Here, they treat me with elegance. In Florida, I’m a little fucking scumbag.”


[Photo by Goggla]

Updated 11/10
The New York Times published a feature obit today.

Per the article:

In addition to his son William, he is survived by another son, Mark; a daughter, Kim; and three grandchildren.

William and Mark Penza own Billymark’s West, a bar of the Mars Bar stripe, on Ninth Avenue at 29th Street.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

At NatureEs, the Mars Bar replacement that apparently is no longer open



There hasn't been much, if any, daytime activity over at NatureEs, the juice bar/cafe/"wellness center" combo at 21 E. First St. in Jupiter 21, the residential building that rose from the grave of the Mars Bar and several other businesses here between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

Former Mars Bar owner Hank Penza was reportedly a partner in this new venture that included a founder of Juice Press.

The cafe space was seemingly cleaned out about a month ago… the doors are always locked during the announced business hours… for at least a week in late September, there were signs on the door noting a closure for a private event...



An EVG reader noted bouncers and a line outside on several nights in early October (there is an active liquor license for the space)…



Out of curiosity, I stopped by NatureEs twice during its run … once right after it opened this past May. There was a disorganized vibe to the place, though you may expect a little chaos shortly after opening.

NatureEs actually didn't have much for sale in this huge space — six juices … a chia bowl. The (presumably?) manager, who treated me like an undesirable party guest, said they were making smoothies, but they didn't have menus yet. They also had hot soup — a lentil bean concoction, which seemed a little much on this unseasonably warm May afternoon. They had two small to-go dishes. The chia bowl and a broccoli/cauliflower mix. Neither item had the ingredients (nor the price) listed. The vegetables had a sauce, but no one knew what it was. Also, the AC wasn't working.

I returned later in the summer, when NatureEs looked more inviting…



I looked around the well-appointed space … I was the only person there, other than the lone employee…



I looked at some body oils and scented candles… it had the feel of a fake store created for a film set…



Eventually I decided to — in the name of blogalism — fork over $11 for a smoothie … the Starter Wife, featuring avocado, pineapple, spinach, ginger and coconut water, sounded appealing (enough).



The employee said of course, and disappeared into the back room. He returned several minutes later with a sheepish look and the news that he did not have any avocados on-hand to make this smoothie. Maybe come back?

Yesterday, CB3 released its roster of meetings for November, including the SLA committee meeting set for Nov. 16.

Among the items on the agenda under alterations:

• Naturees (Paulmil Cafe Inc), 21 E 1st St (alt/op/convert juice bar to Spanish bistro and add additional bar)

So it appears there are plans to convert the juice bar/spa into a bar-restaurant.

Previously on EV Grieve:
NatureEs calls: About the organic cafe coming to where Mars Bar 2.0 was in the works

A quick look inside NatureEs, the new organic cafe coming to 21 E. 1st St.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sign's up at Mars Bar replacement NatureEs, opening May 11



The organic cafe on East First Street opens on May 11, according to an employee… the sign has arrived too…



NatureEs is located in Jupiter 21, the residential building that rose from the grave of the Mars Bar and several other businesses here between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

Not much is known about the cafe just yet, aside from it will serve organic, all-natural, fresh juices and what not. (The NatureEs website still appears to be under construction.)

BoweryBoogie first reported on NatureEs' arrival on April 20.

Previously on EV Grieve:
NatureEs calls: About the organic cafe coming to where Mars Bar 2.0 was in the works

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NatureEs calls: About the organic cafe coming to where Mars Bar 2.0 was in the works



The other day we were admiring the new numbers at 21 E. First St. …



… and wondering when there might be some news about the incoming business — some kind of a two-level cafe-restaurant-lounge-acai-bowl-dispensary combo.

And just like that BoweryBoogie got the scoop on the juice bar part of the space — an organic cafe called NatureEs, serving organic, all-natural, fresh, etc. items …

The NatureEs website offers some rather generic branding for the new venture…



And what of the bar-club portion? Per BB:

Even though the crew still carries a full-blown liquor license, the cellar club isn’t happening. At least not yet. Instead of libations, this space is designated as an in-house spa of sorts. Patrons can take advantage of massages and facials, so we’re told.

A Boogie birdie tells us that Naturees is two weeks from opening...

NatureEs is located in Jupiter 21, the residential building that rose from the grave of the Mars Bar and several other businesses here between Second Avenue and the Bowery.

CB3 OK'd the new liquor license here last May. During that meeting, Mars Bar attorney Frank Palillo said that the new venue will be "a variation of Mars Bar" but will keep the same name, DNAinfo reported at the time. Former Mars Bar owner Hank Penza has a stake in the rebooted business.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Will the new Mars Bar be another location of The Pink Elephant?

Work starting on Mars Bar 2.0

That's it: The Mars Bar is closed for good

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work starting on Mars Bar 2.0



Over at 21. E. First St., workers have removed the for lease sign and put up brown paper on the front windows … likely signaling the start of Mars Bar 2.0.

The city issued work permits issued last Tuesday. Nothing too exciting on the permits. Some "structural stair work" and "removal of non-load bearing interior partitions," etc.

Mars Bar owner Hank Penza — along with a new group of partners — is returning to his former home, now part of the luxury Jupiter 21 building.

The new space will be a two-level cafe-restaurant-lounge combo that will feature a juice bar upstairs with a cafe that serves items such as quinoa bowls, according to DNAinfo. And the downstairs portion will house the bar-club-whatever. (Details remain a little murky on how all this is going to work.)

The place will apparently retain the Mars Bar name, even though we spotted the architect's plans in the window with The Pink Elephant on them.



Penza's new partners are Alain Palinsky, a co-founder of Juice Press, Chris Reda, an owner of The Griffin in the Meatpacking District, and Robert Montwaid, an owner of the club The Pink Elephant.

CB3 OK'd the license for the space back in May.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Will the new Mars Bar be another location of The Pink Elephant?

That's it: The Mars Bar is closed for good

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The fucking TD Bank branch is now open on Second Avenue



Hey, that TD Bank branch anchoring the Jupiter 21 building on Second Avenue at East First Street officially opened yesterday. We walked by and were greeted by no fewer than 14 TD employees on the sidewalk offering free coffee and pastries or something pastry like. They were friendly! (But we missed the TD mascot!)

Did anyone go in to be among the first 100 visitors to receive a free gift? If so, then please let us know what the gift was!

And, as you know, the corner space was home to the Mars Bar until 2011… And, well, what the hell…


[Photo from 2006 by Ixtayul Martinez]

Meanwhile, some WTF variation of the Mars Bar is returning to East First Street … in a cafe-restaurant-club combo that will feature a juice bar and quinoa bowls.

Previously on EV Grieve:
The former Mars Bar is becoming a fucking bank branch

So where's that fucking bank branch that's taking the former Mars Bar space?

The fucking TD Bank signage arrives at the former home of the Mars Bar

Monday, May 12, 2014

Will the new Mars Bar be another location of The Pink Elephant?



So you know that Mars Bar owner Hank Penza (along with a new group of partners) is returning to his former home at 11-17 Second Ave., now the luxury Jupiter 21 building.

The mysterious cafe-bar-club concept will be housed at 21 E. First St. adjacent to the Jupiter 21 residential entrance and the new TD Bank branch.

There's a notice on the front door about tonight's CB3/SLA committee meeting, where Penza and his new partners Alain Palinsky, a co-founder of Juice Press, Chris Reda, an owner of The Griffin in the Meatpacking District, and Robert Montwaid, an owner of the club The Pink Elephant, are on the agenda.



Here's a look at the inside … reportedly a 4,456 basement and ground floor space …



And we noticed some architectural plans on a table inside…





We'll flip the photo to make it easier to read… according to these plans, the place will be called The Pink Elephant.



This could just be a working title for the place. According to the paperwork on file with CB3, the proposed hours of this new venture are 6 a.m.-4 a.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The application also lists that there will be 15 tables good for 80 seats ... with one bar featuring eight seats. The new establishment will employ 15-20 people. And the "All Star Security Services will be providing security guards" — "3-4 nightly."

We don't know much, if anything, about The Pink Elephant, currently located in New York at 40 W. Eighth St. Here's how they describe themselves:

The Pink Elephant is a world renowned brand geared towards high energy entertainment and exuberance for life. With locations in the US, Brazil and Mexico, the brand has come to be a favorite of jet setters, celebrities, socialites and trendsetters alike because of the level of service, sophistication, and overall entertainment experience.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what this place will be like during the day … with the 6 a.m. opening times … and the Juice Press connection.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A few more details about Mars Bar 2.0, which doesn't sound very Mars Bar-ish at all

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A few more details about Mars Bar 2.0, which doesn't sound very Mars Bar-ish at all



As you probably heard, Mars Bar owner Hank Penza (along with a new group of partners) will be returning to his former home at 11-17 Second Ave. ... now the luxury Jupiter 21 building.

Just what is going in here in the retail space adjacent to a TD Bank is still rather murky. Here's how CB3 is listing this application:

Paul Mil Cafe Inc, 11-17 2nd Ave (op/alt/gut renovation) (Mars Bar)

The kinda illegible handwritten responses to the questionnaire (PDF) provided ahead of this month's CB3/SLA committee meeting provide a few clues...

Aside from Penza, the other names of the principals appear to be Alain Palinsky, a co-founder of Juice Press, Chris Reda, an owner of The Griffin in the Meatpacking District, and Robert Montwaid, an owner of the club The Pink Elephant...



Also, according to the paperwork ... the proposed hours are 6 a.m.-4 a.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. (That is a 6 a.m. down there right?)



The application also lists that there will be 15 tables good for 80 seats ... with one bar featuring eight seats. The new establishment will employ 15-20 people. And get this: "All Star Security Services will be providing security guards" — "3-4 nightly."



So there you go. What the hell? Maybe a club that will also serve breakfast? Sounds like the original idea for The General over on the Bowery.

Anyway, RIP Mars Bar.