More bad news for the life of New York's classic dive bars. After 28 years on Bayard Street in Chinatown, Winnie's is closing.
Reader Jack wrote in, "Two bartenders at Winnie’s Bar and Grill in Chinatown have told me that they are closing sometime in March as the landlord is renting the space to someone else (they have gone for 3 years without a lease)."
I called to confirm. The bartender I spoke with told me they'll be closing at the end of March. She was unable to give any details about the reason for the closure. *UPDATE: The owner writes on imgur, "Winnie's Bar will be closing due to the inability to attain a lease from the landlord."
Site of several Chinese gangster showdowns in the late 1980s and early 90s, Winnie's was a favorite spot of the notorious Ghost Shadows. It later became known as a place for karaoke and was voted Best Karaoke Bar in New York by the Village Voice. Here's how they described the scene:
"Dingy, dimly lit, and not too crowded, Winnie's in Chinatown is the antithesis of the slick, sanitized karaoke bars you're likely to encounter uptown. As you enter, you'll notice it's a bit segregated: On the left, old Chinese dudes play dice games at the bar; on the right, spacious red booths are packed with skinny-jeans-wearing hipsters and local office workers cheering on their friends at the mic."
The space itself has been a bar for a long time. Said the bartender of Winnie's 28 years, "It was a bar before that, and a bar before that, and a bar before that." That history shows in the well-worn interior, which is 100% classic dive.
Winnie's block of Bayard makes an appearance in the 1949 movie Adam's Rib. That awning for Carmine's Restaurant looks like it might be the same spot.
Jimmy Breslin wrote of a Carmine's on Bayard Street: "Carmine's is always the same... Carmine's is the bar on Bayard Street, behind the Criminal Court Building in Manhattan, where the cops and court attendants go... Carmine's smells as if it has river water in the basement. A couple of drinks and you don't notice the smell anymore."
Could be the place.
104 Bayard also turns up in a murky tax photo from the early 1980s, but it's too blurry to determine the bar's name.
In any case, what are the chances that Winnie's space will remain a dive bar once Winnie's is gone?
Before it turns into yet another bubble tea emporium, visit one last time to enjoy this classic spot -- knock back a pitcher of Winnie's infamous Hawaiian Punch (a powerful mixture of, among other things, rum, vodka, amaretto, creme de bananes, and grenadine), and belt out a bad rendition of "Don't Stop Believin" or "Eye of the Tiger" (two of the biggest crowd pleasers, according to general manager Teddy Mui).
Better yet, for this occasion, "Another One Bites the Dust."