Monday, July 28, 2014

Rodeo Bar

VANISHED

By now, most of you know that Rodeo Bar was closing. It shuttered yesterday, after nearly 30 years on 3rd Avenue.



In a farewell profile to the popular honky-tonk, the Times writes today that the closure came "after 27 years of holding out, Alamo style, against rising rents and marching chain stores."



I had never heard of Rodeo Bar until some readers wrote in, weeks ago, to tell me about the closure. I'm really not the Urban Cowboy type.

Recently, I went for the first time, for lunch, which is probably not exactly prime-time to go. It was quiet. I had a burger. While a western-style bar is not the sort of place I generally frequent, Rodeo was a survivor, a long-lasting small business standing since 1987 against the corporatization of the city, and that's something.

It is yet another casualty of New York's massive, homogenizing shift.



From the Times:

"The owner, Mitch Pollak, said changes in the neighborhood had made him decide to close. When he bought the Rodeo Bar in 1996, his monthly payments for rent and insurance averaged $10,000, he said; today they amount to almost $50,000. Chains occupied many of the neighboring storefronts, including 7-Eleven, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, Starbucks and Duane Reade Express, and they made the block feel sterile, Mr. Pollak said."

"Young customers have also drifted off in recent years to new, local bars that offer sports on flatscreens, rather than honky-tonk tunes and Texas beer. 'The neighborhood changed a lot,' said Mr. Pollak, 55. 'We didn’t change at all.'"

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Young customers have also drifted off in recent years to new, local bars that offer sports on flatscreens, rather than honky-tonk tunes and Texas beer."

Call it the 'flat screen' generation. Spiritually, figuratively, and physically with *flat* as the operative word.

DrBOP said...

Anon 9:26.....NICE observation.....especially when juxtaposed with the "beat generation" and all it entailed.

divaraven said...

In recent years, it was also an offbeat place to see burlesque. I, too, am not the cowboy type. However watching clothes fly off and land in sawdust on the floor turned me into a fan.

Ed said...

I'm going to call bullshit on this. Unlike the Ding Dong Lounge, which actually did present good music and which will be missed, the only notable thing about this particular place, which also presented music, was that it was around for a long time. You are running out of the actually good places to lament, because they have pretty much all closed at this point, and are just complaining about the closing of the mediocre places that happened to have survived for awhile.

ShatteredMonocle said...

I saw Eddie Angel play here and I believe Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co had a recurring stint. Apart from that it was a great place for a proper and affordable midtown lunch. It will in fact be missed by those of us who went there.

laura r. said...

ed, i never heard of these places, care about them, or would visit them. the point is: small businesses are closing, being replaced by duane reade dunken donuts banks. that is what this blog is about. maybe they will put a froyo there. that is revolting. middle americana texas here we come. (or are we there yet)??

Anonymous said...

This is a business that chose not to adjust to the changing culture and demographics. Its one thing to not like the changes but as a business owner it makes no sense to not change. Personally I see Texas as filled with homphobes religious zealots gun nuts and right wing whack jobs. And its the home of gw bush. I have zero interest in celebrating the beer music or 'culture' of Texas. Sorry.

Gojira said...

Oh please. One regular band that played here, Frog Holler out of Bucks County PA (quite far from Texas, cowboys, rodeos, GW Bush, etc.) played some of the finest folk rock/bluegrass/blues rock I have ever heard, complete with dobros, mandolins, lap steel, banjos both electric and acoustic, tight harmonies and smart, clever songs. Anyone who thinks only mediocre country bands played there is as dumb as the dirt that was all over the floor there.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Rodeo Bar's most important function was as a musical training ground. With the closure of Kenny's Castaways, etc., there are precious few places like that left, where young up-and-coming musicians can have two or three sets a night to explore and find themselves musically. In that sense it was a genuine honky tonk. I played here a lot in the mid 1990s with a cool jump blues band and it was always a good time for band and audience alike. Plus- the gig paid decently, you could order off the regular menu, and all the free beer you could drink. RIP Rodeo Bar.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:09-

Do the names T-Bone Walker, Willie Nelson, Arnett Cobb, Ornette Coleman, or Stevie Ray Vaughan mean anything to you?

Just asking...

Pat said...

@Gojira: Don't worry about @Anonymous 9:09. He or she means "homophobes" not "homphobes" and "it's" as in "it is" not "its". That one doesn't dig Texas but hasn't heard "Word Crimes" yet either, heh-heh.

Anonymous said...

Do the names.Ted Cruz Rick Perry or GW Bush mean anything to you? Just asking.....

Anonymous said...

What does it say that now y'all are defending Texas. Pretty amazing. NY really has changed especially considering how many people I know who left there.

Anonymous said...

@10:27 What does it say about you that you feel the need to troll about Texas of all things?

Anonymous said...

I meant they left Texas for NY . Now you are supporting Texas. Amazing. Going to get your guns and pickup trucks next? Gonna need those.to keep the abortion clinic closed on the way to the NRA rally while wearing a speak English t shirt. A handful of amazing musicians doesn't outweigh that. Hope this writing/typing was acceptable.

laura r. said...

anon, geeesh ever hear of a fun bar w/music? why does everything have to be politics. think of horses rodeos guitars ranches. im not a texas type but some people had fun there. now its being replaced w/suburban americana texas.(chainstores). btw, i like ted cruz: take THAT!!

Anonymous said...

I lived 3 blocks away on 3rd Avenue for 8 years. I've been in the bar once. On busy nights the annoying crowd usually spills out onto the street. I try to cross the Avenue to walk on the other side before passing the area. From what I can tell, the usual crowd is loud, pompous and pretentious. A sea of white wash with bud lights in hand. The closing of Rodeo Bar is actually GOOD for the neighborhood.

Pat said...

@Anonymous 8:09: I live in the neighborhood too. Third Avenue from Murray Hill all the way down to the Bowery and into the East Village and Lower East Side is a destination for drunken over-grown frat boys and female sex in the city wannabees. Sports bars are able to make the rent and they proliferate. When Bistro Lamazou, a nice restaurant, went out, they were replaced by a sports bar. The area increasingly resembles a Midwestern college town or Hoboken's Washington Street. At least Rodeo had live music and gave musicians a chance. I am holding my breath wondering what will replace 'Inotecca on 24th & Third which has been vacant for years. You could get a drink at 'Inotecca, but it was not a sports bar, neither is Rolf's farther downtown on Third Avenue. When the Abbey Tavern on 26th & Third went out of business I don't remember how many years ago, I really missed it, because it was a bar/restaurant in which a mature person could feel comfortable. Grace opened on Third recently which is not sports bar, that is good, but it is rather expensive. So it goes.

Anonymous said...

Your liking Ted Cruz and commenting proudly about that is sign number 26000 that the ev is over.

laura r. said...

anon july11:08am/ july 29 9:09- sterotype lately? the whole fun of that bar was that people enjoyed the music & the rowdy stuff. what does pickup trucks & anti gay have to do w/that? (looks like "agenda" trumps everything. im sure texas is very gay, as portrayed in the movies). back to the bar- it was about music, which you dont seem to know that much about. (some of the other posters do). im no expert on '"cool"- but i cant imaging a fun yogart place. or a fun cellphone store. pat 2:07- looks like the scene from east 80s, 1st, 2nd, 3rd ave moved south? i mean the college sport bars? as more colleges expand so these businesses.

Walter said...

Another place of significance in my life gone. So sorry to hear that. Went there on a first date with my friend. She was an 80 pound 5 foot Japanese girl. She loved the "ridiculous margaritas", served in a large container. Told me she had to use the bathroom. I waited and waited and waited, she didn't return. Finally I asked a female customer to please go and check. She had passed out on the throne. Thanks for the memories.

Anonymous said...

I went to Rodeo Bar the early afternoon of 9/11, after making the trek up from my office downtown -- because I needed to do a bunch of whisky shots. There were a lot of people there, most just sorta dazed and shocked. We ordered food and drinks and the place wouldn't take our money. Or anybody else's. They were just feeding a ton of people and getting them drunk for free. Say what you want about the Rodeo Bar, but THAT'S what a neighborhood place does. Sad to see it go.

art.les.nyc said...

As the saying goes, Make Beans Not War. As a Rodeo Bar employee of 17 years. Rodeo was about the community and family that the staff created. And just like many communities in NYC, profit and greed have completely destroyed it. As for the Murray Hill residents losing another annoying bar on the corner. I wonder how many people will be sad or shocked when Tonic shut it's doors.