Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Odessa

VANISHED

The dark one, not the light one. The old one, not the "new" one. Gone.



Gone the blood-red shag ceiling.



Gone the big booth with its view of the avenue's drama.



Gone the bullfight "art."



Gone the Disco Fries.



Gone my last supper.



Odessa has been here since 1965. I've been eating there for the past 20 years. There used to be lines to get in the door, if you can imagine that. And now it's gone, soon to be an "American brasserie." Because what the East Village needs is more "America."


21 comments:

Anonymous said...

US out of NYC

EV Grieve said...

Ugh. This loss really hurts. I had so many amazing moments here... too many to list. RIP.

Anonymous said...

I am so outta here. I've said this a million times but this is the result of a generation that were told as children that drugs were bad. I'm not condoning drug use but the drug culture had way more to offer than artisinal food and bottle service. If the East Village is dead so are art and music in New York. People can argue against that as much as they want but New York City is NO LONGER a center for creativity or creative people. Something it has been known for decades and decades. It's done! This is now the consumer capital of the world. Nothing more, nothing less. How incredibly sad.

Goggla said...

I really can't take any more last suppers or last calls.

I loved the Dark Side and always had a happy time in there. And that ceiling made me feel I was still in the womb...

Anonymous said...

Odessa
Polonia
Kiev
Teresa's
Leshko's

And so it goes.

Lindsay said...

Oh, how I loved that red ceiling. Thank you for the photos, such a tremendous loss.

Anonymous said...

Glad, at least, that kindred spirits here share my grief at Odessa's passing.
-Muzz

laura said...

anin 9:54, you know what they say about the united states........ they put themselves all over the world, even when they are not invited. remember the expression, the "ugly american" ?

Uncle Waltie said...

@ Anonymous at 3:18PM:

At least we still got Veselka and the Ukrainian National Home.

Remember Orchidia?

Anonymous said...

Saturday night, after I saw a movie, I wanted to have dinner somewhere that had the authentic East Village atmosphere..something dark and edgy, full of characters and people you actually would like to get to know.. then I remembered Odessa !! I had been going there since the mid 1980's.. We headed over there, entered and thought immediately, "This is perfect"..thank god its still here...kinda like a'David Lynch' set... Then, when the waiter came over with our two margarita's and I was ordering my borscht, he casually told me, "BTW, this is our last night.." My heart dropped all the way down to China..

Uncle Waltie said...

John Catsima Cuckoo wants me to vote for him. He promised to kill all the mice in Gristedes and offered me a lifetime supply of mouse traps.

John M said...

When I moved to this neighborhood, the Odessa, Leshko's and the Kiev almost WERE the restaurant scene around here. Ave. A sushi was a slightly odd, weirdly lit curiosity. When the old Tompkins Square restaurant opened in today's Doc Holiday space, it was amazing...it wasn't diner food! Wow. When Dok Suni opened, it was an event. Korean? Here?

Man, those days are long gone. I remember when Odessa took over the space next door and opened looking like a mall restaurant from the 70s with the light wood and too-bright lights. The fear was that they were closing the old space, and if I remember correctly (far from a sure thing), they did for a while. Guess we felt the future coming even then.

Fratboy wasteland. Clueless tourists. Schmucks.

Anonymous said...

Just had a look at the New York article, which includes this statement: "Though the East Village seems in danger of becoming one huge art bar . . ." If only that were the case, now.

Pat said...

Don't forget Christine's near 13th Street, I ate there in the 80's. They opened another branch on 2nd Avenue & 25th Street and I think one in Queens, maybe they over expanded, now all gone. They tried to come back on First Avenue near 13th Street, didn't last. Someone told me Teresa (of Teresa's restaurant) was Christine's daughter.

Anonymous said...

Oh Orchidia! Yes! (Long long ago!)

BTW, the Teresa's outpost in Brooklyn Heights (Montague St) is still alive and well and worth the trip over the bridge on your little blue citibike...

Little Poland, Neptune, UNHome... keeping fingers crossed...

Anonymous said...

My heart just broke a little more.

I moved to LA in 07, I lived in the EV in the mid/late 90's.

I've been following this blog for a while dreading the day that I would no longer be able to head down and get my beloved pirogies and potato pancakes.

So many wonderful and heartbreaking memories... Every day bring one less reason to go back and visit.

ricky rocky said...

Odessa gone. Arthur Bell of the Village Voice always ate there while he was alive. He told me so.

Ridiculous in the City said...

Thank you for the red ceiling photo. There was no better place to sit alone at the bar. Great food, great tunes, comfortingly questionable bathroom.

Waybackwhen said...

Loved it there. A little bit of my soul has died.

Anonymous said...

Yes!!! I loved it! We used to call it 'cheats' but I don't remember why--maybe it was just the syllable...? Who knows?, but I grew up on the stools of Orchidiyas and that where George Dzunza hung with us! ��

North Beach Films said...

Odessa… Now that was Dining!

We used to head downtown to eat there around 4 nights each week between 1983-87. Steve Buscemi often sat alone in the little booth across from us, and we always managed to snag that first booth against the left wall as you walked in the front door. We would pack in 3 or 4 more of our friends — underneath the Bull Fight Picture, or looking at it, can’t recall exactly.

What I do recall with great clarity is that the service was always excellent at Odessa and the food was superb. For 3.00 dollars I would order Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Black Coffee, and those prices were incredibly low — even for the 1980s.

After dinner we would walk uptown and explore the night-time mysteries of NYC along the way; dancing at the Palladium, drinking Stoli and orange juice on the funky couches in the Michael Todd Room behind those white sheets, curtains, drop cloths, whatever they were. Milling about at the LimeLight, watching in awe as the girls piled on their lip gloss, eyeshadow, and hairspray in 80s style. Then we would wind our way home to our rent controlled railroad-flat that had four bedrooms and two of us living there on East 86th — just up from the Bremen House.

That building has since been torn down…

We also loved the glam of the Pyramid Club, which coming from San Francisco was our “home away from home.” As I recall it was free on Friday Nights (?), and there we would absolutely thrill each time we saw their fabulous floor show. The place, as we all know, was (is?) jam packed with fun, music, and generally warm and friendly artists. Just scads of happy funny people having a great time together. Oh we just loved the Pyramid Club. Odessa had that same warmth, the warmth of kind and generous people.

It was a cool time for me to live in NYC, and I am happy to have had these experiences. But I rarely “look back” at my own life and this week has been interesting because during some research, I stumbled across many articles about places we used to hang around during those years.

What puzzles me is how stunningly iconic all of these places have become. So many of them listed as the all time “best of” this and that in NYC. It is wonderful to find that the vibrance of these places, and the times, have “lived on” in our minds and hearts because we were there… But unlike this article, most of the postings I find seem to come from people who were never at these places. This begs the question, “Where are the new Odessa’s and Leshko’s of today?”

Frankly, it appears that little has replaced what our parents and grandparents generations provided for us. All cool and cozy ma and pa businesses that were thriving (even funny nightclubs) during that era have been swallowed up by corporate clones.



I left NYC in 1988, and drove home to San Francisco. This city held on for a long time, but in the past three years (2015-18) the place has tilted full corporate. Each day that a lease runs out, a vibrant historic business shuts down. Booted out by new offshore holding companies that have gobbled up the real estate and installed their pre-fab corporate tenants who manufacture a bunch of trashy junk.

Hey, I can’t sugar coat it. :)

There are a few family spots hanging on because their buildings were inherited by kids who maintain the family firms. But those spots are quickly becoming oases ensconced within the resolution of corporate deserts.

Let’s hope that the kids of the future figure our how to return to a life of independence and, frankly, fun. It is pretty simple to quit spending money at toxic establishments, but of course that is a choice that humans will have to make. Anyway, we sure had fun, and I am glad that you were all there to share it with us! It would never have been as fabulous without all of you who “made the scene.”

Thank you for the awesome post and the fabulous images!
Rock on.