Tuesday, January 15, 2008

International Bar Redux

Back in November, I posted about the demise of the East Village's International Bar, watering hole of dive lovers everywhere. This week I noticed the windows have been papered over and I wondered what was happening. Tonight, I got the answer via the following very informative tip from commenter "branmasterflash," who apparently has the inside scoop. Branmaster assures us, "The International is in good hands." Finally, some good news!

Thanks, branmaster, whoever you are. I reproduce here your comment in full (if slightly copy edited):



"The International is being restored as a neighborhood bar. It will not be quite as gritty as it was, but it will be very similar to what it always was. There will also be some differences in the layout. The bar has been moved to the other side of the room and there is more room at the front of the bar. The proximity of the old bar so close to the front door was always a problem. Unfortunately the old bar was torn out when the new owners came in. However, and at great pain, the owners purchased the 30-year-old mahogany wood bar from the original Raccoon Lodge on First Avenue and have installed it in the International.

One of the new owners was a customer at the International. Another of the three owners has been a resident of the Lower East Side since 1956. So rest assured, the International is in good hands.

And, yes, the name will remain the same, the gold-leaf lettering in the window will be restored, and Leonard Cohen will still be on the juke. Old fans of the bar will feel at home.



The community board was unusually helpful in their quick approval of the new owners' liquor license application. That's because the new owners are committed to restoring the International Bar as a neighborhood landmark. The East Village has been overrun by 'trendy' bars and the community board has stopped issuing new license approvals. So give credit to the community board for recognizing that this particular application was an exception that deserved approval.

If all goes well with construction, permits, and licenses, the International Bar should re-open sometime in March."

10 comments:

Paul Carter said...

Good news, I loved the old place, I wish Standard would come back too...another great bar.

Ethan Rand said...

Oh thanks goodness. When I moved to the East Village I chose my apartment partly for its proximity to the International and then it went and closed. Let's hope they still serve the cheapest, coldest Rolling Rock in the hood. (Though the Tile Bar across the street has been a serviceable substitute in the interim.)

Lisanne McT said...

Nice to hear a good story for once, not that i'm knocking what you do!

Anonymous said...

It won't be the same without Rose and Dan et al behind the bar. Plus they probably scraped all the smoke-stained, ash-covered gunge and dusty crap off the crap that was pasted onto the crap that was taped to the mirror. You call this progress and I tell you to shut up and then we yell at each other and you get 86d. Jerk.

See you tomorrow!

BabyDave said...

Where was the "original Raccoon Lodge on First Avenue"?

Peter said...

Will Rose get back her Friday and Saturday night shifts (this is crucial). Also, what about the bookcase in the corner with the ancient textbooks and shitty paperbacks, and the smoke be-plaqued chandelier and the upside down xmas tree and the "Happy New Year" sign and Rob W.'s deflating rubber globes above the bar?? And the cheesy pulsating xmas lights and Hank and Dinah and Nina and Anita and Ramones on the juke and the crusty moose head by the door and the portrait of the owner in a black cowboy hat and the shrine to his wife Joy who ran the place...and the heartbroken septuagenarian lushes who never left the place (except in a box) and those regulars, those dudes who almost never got laid cos they scared (ie, bored) all the good looking women out of the place) with their talk of Orson Welles directing a Godzilla movie (or was it Planet of the Apes) in Japanese from a script by Dostoevsky and Don Delillo...

Hey Rose!! HEY!!!! CAN I GET A SHOT OVAH HEAH?? What??!! NO WAY!! But...but... I AMM NOT BEING TOO LOOOUD!!!! Fine!! SCREW THIS DUMP!! See if I ever come back...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the old staff is gone.Mostly scattered to the winds.As for the internals much of it was taken out before the new owners could get hold of the place.Purchasing the old mahogany bar from the defunct Racoon Lodge was necessary because the original bar was scuttled by the old owners.That was a shame.But there's a great history behind the old bar that's been used to replace the original one.The old photo of Michael Petruno in a cowboy hat remains and will be rehung.The oddball painting of a woman passed out in a chair will also be put back up.There's a couple of light sconces that remain.The important thing really is the owners "get it." But some things needed to be changed.Women couldn't sit down in the old bathrooms without their knees knocking against the wall.The bathroom sink was outside the bathrooms.The bar crushed customers against the wall and crowded the front.These are "features" that needed to be fixed.And the bar doesn't have to be filthy to be "the real deal".Think Lucy's.It's one of the best old joints in the east village.She runs a clean,comfortable place but it ain't che-che is it? Or depressing.The new owners didn't take over the International to have a bad time there.So it won't be quite the down-low place it was.But it will be the ONLY bar in the neighborhood with an owner who actually grew up there.And his partners have been in the EV for twenty years.They're all musicians.So they are going to run a place that's a little more fun than the original.There hasn't been a really fun joint in the EV for a long time.In great part that's because of gentrification.So there really is no bringin' back the old days because the people who really made the neighborhood what it was are mostly gone.But at least the new owners know what that is.Of those who do remain from those days it's a mixed bag.Some musicians,artists,writers and local fuzzballs are around and they have more eclectic needs than the crowd that once populated the International.So while the International will not attempt to be all things to all people it will be all things to all neighborhood folks who need a refuge.
That's why the new owners took over.They just didn't feel like there was any place in the neighborhood to go anymore.
So they're makin' their own.
Non-conformism will be wodrencouraged.

juicy lucy said...

Welcome back. We have been passing on the news at after hours and all night apt gatherings. Nice to hear there are still some real people left. Looking forward to some Nina Simone and a Canadian Club press. See you soon.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the very old staff. My name is K the bartender. Michael was a very sweet man. I worked there for a few years in the late 80's It was a fun place, crazy days. I haven't been there in over ten years. I am glad someone took it over.

Mark Rabinowitz said...

Holy F&*ksticks! I am torn between curiosity, joy and a feeling that sleeping dogs ought to be given pillows.

We'll see!