We got a heartfelt comment this week from the Lutak family about the end of the Holiday Cocktail Lounge.
Roman Lutak writes, "Would like thank everyone who attended, contributed, socialized, was over served, lived, or in anyway uplifted and made it the Holiday Cocktail Lounge. The last three years have been extremely difficult since my dad Stefan left (February 3, 2009). This was not an easy decision or done out of haste. But the reality of the matter is the Holiday as everyone really knew (knows) was really Stefan. Once he passed, it was never going to be the same. No new employees or managing was going to change that."
Stefan, by Mike Marvin
He continued, "As I said in yesterday's NY Times interview 'I am going to finally get a chance to grieve' without the responsibility of maintaining the 'Holiday' legacy. As stated, I had no intention of leaving my mark on it since this was really my mother and father's legacy. And can rest knowing that they are the ones who will always be identified as the legitimate face and spirit of the Holiday. There will be no 'new' Holiday since I would not allow (legally) to use any combination of the Holiday Cocktail Lounge. It ends with my dad as sole face to always be associated with 'HIS' Holiday. Thank You for all the memories and some of the nightmares. The Lutak Family."
As you may know by now, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge has been taken over by the founder of the Pirate Booty snack company. He and Barbara Sibley, the owner of neighboring restaurant La Palapa, will be turning the space into a restaurant that "will echo the restaurants that have disappeared, with a menu offering those foods New Yorkers 'miss' like Shepard’s Pie and fish 'n’ chips."
Sibley told Grub Street, "We're going to try to preserve as much of the history as possible."
at La Palapa
I hope that's sincere. We've heard it so many times--and been disappointed so many times by owners who then gut our favorite places, and essentially bar the door with extravagant prices and obnoxious clientele. People like to say you can't turn the city into a museum, but you can preserve its treasures and still thrive. It happened for Eisenberg's--why not the Holiday?
La Palapa is in the building where W.H. Auden once lived--Sibley put a plaque on the front of the restaurant stating this. Auden was also a famous regular at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and Sibley is said to be a fan of the poet. She once told the New York Times, "we joke that the spirit of his martinis runs through [La Palapa's] margaritas.''
Auden on St. Mark's Place, Richard Avedon
Let's hope that Ms. Sibley and the new owner take into consideration the community that supported the Holiday through the decades. And may they at least opt to keep the wonderful semi-circular bar whose soft-worn wood once propped the elbows of the great poet. That treasure would be too much to lose from a neighborhood already awash in grief over so many losses.