We've been hearing speculation for months that the wonderful Bill's Gay 90s would be closing. Now it's official. Marty visited this week and talked to the bartender and the owner. They confirmed that the last day for Bill's will be March 24.
Writes Marty, "It seems that the landlord isn't going to renew the lease and someone else is going to take over. The landlord hasn't revealed who this someone else is, but all bets are on John DeLucie, even though it's been denied in the press. My question is why would the landlord deny Bill's lease when they pack them in nightly."
Bill's has been on 54th Street since 1924. Tallulah Bankhead drank here. Their website says: "this jewel in the crown of Roaring Twenties nightlife continues to defy the powers that be (progress now and development) while holding its sacred ground for a clientele, in some cases, four generations old." But, as we know, the powers that be cannot be defied forever. No matter how popular and beloved a bar might be.
It's heartbreaking to lose yet another century-old classic, another unpretentious place where you can sit and have a drink in quiet, eat a burger at the bar, talk to decent people, and feel like you are someplace--someplace real and solid.
And what will happen to all the wonderful antiques? What happens to the Ziegfeld girls and the mustachioed boxers, to the wooden telephone booth and the stained glass saloon doors? What will happen to the green-shirted jockey guarding the entrance?
Owner Barbara Bart told Marty that "there will be a new Bill's in the future, not far from this location." She owns all the memorabilia in the place and plans to take it with her to the new spot, so we won't see a Minetta Tavern maneuver done here, all those treasures locked up for the swells.
But can Bill's last in a new space? Time and again we've seen long-term survivors, pushed out by greedy landlords, reopen in a new location, only to vanish again (and for good) a year or two later. Once displaced, most businesses just don't make it. I hope Bill's has a happier ending.
And a pox on whatever carpetbagger is about to swoop in to raid the corpse of this New York institution.