Thursday, February 27, 2014

Subway Inn

Recently, EV Grieve asked, "Should we start worrying about the Subway Inn?"

The Real Deal reported that the development firm World-Wide Group, owners of the Subway Inn's building, just made another big purchase on the block, adding 155 E. 60th to their growing parcel, which includes numbers 143 (home of Subway Inn), 145-147, 149, 151 and 153.

We wonder what it means. Surely, the global corporation plans to knock it all down and put up a giant glass sarcophagus in which to bury the soul of this block.

Gothamist asked the owner's son, who said, "We're not worried about it anytime soon. As far as we know, everything is good." However, "We're probably going to end up moving somewhere else pretty close in the area. But right now it's not a concern, so we're not looking right now."

I made a trip up to the beloved dive bar, on 60th Street near Lexington since 1937, where it still sports one of the most splendid neon signs in town.

The bartender I talked to had the same noncommittal response, saying, "We've been 'closing' for nine years now, but it hasn't happened yet." He had a Zen-like, living-in-the-moment attitude, just taking it easy, one day at a time. "We could close as early as a few months, or it could be years from now. You never know."

What does it mean? Nothing and everything. The short answer is: Yes, worry. But go while you can, have a few drinks, soak up the atmosphere. Tomorrow, it could be gone.

In 1997, New York magazine included the bar in their Best of New York, summing it up this way, "If someone lit up a cigar in here, it would be an old bald guy reading the Post, not some yuppie talking Dow after the final bell." 

At the right time of day nothing has really changed. While Friday nights bring in a loud party crowd (atomic wings!), and a few affluent locals "sneak in" now and then, the bar caters mostly to after-work folks--with the usual 6:00 rush, followed by an 11:00 rush when the restaurant workers pour in. In the daytime, though, you can still find an old bald guy reading the Post, but no cigar.

And the best time to go (if you like your dive bars quiet)? Sunday afternoon.


Anonymous said...

I haven't had a drink in 6 years and it's one of the few places that makes me wish I hadn't fucked it all up. Every time I see that neon I can smell the stale beer and hear the floor creak under my feet. The Subway Inn should not be taken for granted--take it from me.

Anonymous said...

Start worrying.

I predict a column on its demise within two years. No way the powers that be buying the block are letting a dive bar stop them.

Anonymous said...

Cafe Medina in Union Square has announced that today will be its final day of business. As far as I and my other officemates can tell, they didn't announce until this morning. Very sad, but not very shocking on a single street that has Hale&Hearty, Dig In! and Pret a manger.

Pat said...

Dig Inn on 17th is a good place. I can get a small veggie plate with rice and 5 different cooked fresh vegetables for $6.50. They only have 7 locations, all in NYC, so they are hardly a conglomerate. Pret a Manger and Hale and Hearty have dozens of locations in NYC and Pret is also international. A different kettle of fish, or something, anyway, I was never in Cafe Medina, cannot judge. Something else which went out on that street was Dogmatic, the fancy sausage venue. It was replaced by Liquiteria, the pricy but fresh juice bar.