Monday, December 29, 2008

P&G Lingers

Believing the Upper West Side's P&G bar would close on December 31, I visited this weekend to say goodbye. But the bartender informed me they'll probably linger on until sometime in February--the new place isn't ready just yet. He also reported that their sign, that beloved antique neon that everyone hopes will survive, probably won't be going with them. It's too old, too brittle to make the journey.

On Saturday the New York Times also visited the P&G, wondering if its patrons will follow the classic dive to its new, larger, and more deluxe location. Glenn Collins writes:

"The future P&G, with its 2,700-square-foot public space, is three times as large as the old 860-square-foot bar, has four rooms and will offer a fireplace for the poolroom-and-dartboard set. A rusticated structural wall will be an ornament, instead of the kitschy Austrian castle and forest fantasy mural signed in 1943 by a rye-drinking artist who executed the scene to pay his bar tab. Some regular customers worry about being dispossessed. “'I’ll feel out the new place,' said Patrick Duffy, a stagehand who has been a regular for more than a decade. 'But we don’t know if the new place is for us--we’re old school.'

As the Observer noted last month, the new place will be a full restaurant, where bags of Doritos will be replaced by storied steaks and chops, along with gourmet burgers. Said owner Chahalis, “I make these awesome teriyaki garlic-saffron-rubbed burgers.”

There was nothing rubbed with saffron when I visited. Decked out for the holidays, the bar was hung with Christmas stockings, names of regulars written on them in glue and glitter. As I sipped my final drink, gray-haired men (mostly) stood outside smoking. Younger men, in jeans and work boots, came inside shouting about baseball and football, their faces unshaven. A woman in a black beret sat on the corner stool, not saying much, just drinking.

These old-schoolers just don't seem like saffron-rubbed people. And without them, without that gorgeous neon sign, without the cracked and peeling 1943 mural of the Austrian forest, let's face it: The P&G is going to vanish.


Ken Mac said...

Its over. Dead and gone. Like too much in this town.

Anonymous said...

This city sucks so much. New Yorkers born or raised here make up probably 1% or less of the population, and the rest wanna eat at chains and shop at chains, they all suck even more for going to those places.

The worst part is that tourist come here and think Banana Republic and H&M are what New York is all about.

At least our economy sucks, and will continue to suck, keep these big piece of crap chains from expanding in our city.


L'Emmerdeur said...

I've spent a few evenings at the P&G since I moved around the block a couple of months back. The folks behind the bar are too polite and discreet, but I can tell they aren't too thrilled with the move. I just hope they end up earning more in the new place.

FWIW, I'm on vacation in Greece, and this place has been overrun by chain stores as well.

Face it, the human race is becoming a mob of zombies.

Anonymous said...

You must also see this Times' article, "Record $47 Million Tourists Visit City," (a) spouting off whatever "figures" Mayor Bloomberg states (remember when he said the Waterfalls brought in $69 million to the city?) and (b) because this is treated as a 'good thing.'

Bloomberg can say whatever he likes to raise his ratings in the polls, although why (and most comments at the Times' site are supportive or at least not critical), most New Yorkers would see this *as* a 'good thing' - the over-reliance on Wall Street, real estate and tourism - I don't know.


Icarus' Heir said...

I know this is going to be very random, but doesn't the P&G have some sort of wierd hand driers in the restrooms?

I was lucky enough to wander in there one day with some friends completely on a whim and we ended up spending HOURS having the best time chatting with the bartender. She told us all about how they occasionally had burgers and stuff when the felt like making them and the whole place just had this air of laid back happiness. Even then they had a petition behind the bar to save the place which we all happily signed. Unfortunately one of the reasons we liked it so much was because it was so empty and so intimate. I realize that's no way to run a profitable business, but I sure and glad I got to see the place in all its odd glory.

Anonymous said...

it's over, but it sounds like to owner is excited to be getting a pool table and a restaurant. this isn't exactly a decimation, it sounds like he's trying to make the best of a bad situation.

The New York Experience said...

I work across the street from P&G, and I am sorry to announce that there are people removing the signage as we speak....