Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rose's Turn Today

"For 56 years," wrote the Times in 2007, "since it opened during the Truman administration, 55 Grove Street in the West Village has been a piano bar, cabaret and comedy club for the quick-witted and full-throated. First it was Upstairs/Downstairs, then the Duplex (which remains open at another location), and finally it became Rose’s Turn."

Rose's Turn closed in 2007, ending 56 years of history. Let's take a look at what has replaced it.



55 Grove is now the home office for interior design firm S.R. Gambrel. Town & Country called Mr. Gambrel "the darling of young Wall Streeters ... the go-to decorator for a great many of today's young titans of finance and technology."


What was a ramshackle, nondescript tenement is now a sleek showplace, like something flown in from the Hamptons. An alabaster lioness guards the big front window.

An apparent master of transformation, Gambrel has also taken a "nightmare" of a Village apartment building and turned it into his own luxury townhouse. (The man played by Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon once lived there.)

before, New York magazine

For half a century, 55 Grove underwent change--from one cabaret to another--then came the 2000s when we have just three choices for what will replace the old city: stratospheric luxury, pricey artisanal independent, or national chain.

It's startling to walk down Grove Street today, to pass Marie's Crisis and Arthur's Tavern and then to come upon Gambrel. I wonder what else will be transformed here--we've seen what happens when the neighbors go upscale.

I'm getting worried for Arthur's and Marie's
with their gritty, old facades, their rusted neon signs, their hard-won character. Is someone already plotting their demise? Are The Joneses, concerned about property values, looking upon these classic New Yorkers and thinking, "This just won't do"?

Let's pray they own their buildings.


Billy said...

The "Dog Day..." Pacino reference made me wistful for "Serpico" Pacino's apartment on Minetta Street, next to where that kitschy Mexican join was until recently. Wonder what's going on on that delightful lane.

henry said...

I'm in Maine now -- is the Oaks still there? It was the Five Oaks, then it was the Oaks. I loved that place. It was simultaneously a completely stereotypical gay cabaret and a totally regular place that anybody could go and drink. At 21 and new to the area, I didn't know there was that.

Which I guess is sort of why I used to love living down there -- it was a great place to learn the lesson that we have more in common than not.

Also, they had a Sunday chili buffet which was such a strange idea. Like, why?

On second thought, don't tell me whether the Oaks is still there or not. I don't want to know.

NancyR said...

Oh the Upstairs/Downstairs. It was operational WAY before my time but my mom loved that place. The comedy troupe that used to perform there made records and we used to listen to them as kids. All very giggly, giggly about sex and reefer and a strange character called Harry the Hipster. I loved those records and still sing the little songs today - Gristedes (we met in Gristedes/I was looking for Wheaties/He was looking for kicks), Cement Mixer. Would love to hear from others who may know more about the troupe and the club itself. Interior design - bleh.

79rigid said...

The interview was an interesting read.Like
another aspect of JM not often seen on the
blog.When I visit NY I'm still shocked how
well behaved people are compared to here
in Vancouver.People going in or coming out
of the subway generally stayed to the right.
Quite the opposite here.Very frustrating to
be honest.

Jeremiah Moss said...

true, not all aspects at once.

lauran said...

"J" dont despair. they did a beautiful job on that building. its very old world. i would have liked a piano bar, but @least it is not an ugly cell phone store. is that street "zoned"?

Anonymous said...

From several people, I've heard that long ago, you could go into Upstairs Downstairs and see performing: a young Woody Allen, a young Joan Rivers, a young Dick Cavett, a young Louise "Mary Hartman" Lasser .....

Isn't the West Village in a land marked district?

W said...

I concur with Lauren. Better to have the talented Gambrel occupying the historic building.. It's a very respectful and restrained facade. And the window is a treat to pass by.

The Village is still the creative heart of Manhattan and it's kinda great that a small independent artisan business has been able to open there.

In the same breath I'll say.. Marie's Crisis is still the happiest room in the city. Thankfully it appears to be thriving. Long live Marie's. W

LCranston said...

I was a regular at Roses turn starting in the early 90's.It was a great place,in fact it was a great block at that time. The Oaks down the block (long gone)had great food and had a friendly old NYC attractiveness and charm as did Roses turn. In the 90's it was all locals but at the end it became very bridge and tunnel,as did the village in general.You never knew what talent was going to pop in and sing a number here.Basically a neighborhood bar in a very talented and friendly neighborhood.As the area changed the business slowed and the owner Henry,decided to take S.R. Gambrel's 3 million dollar offer for the building, in which he paid 250,000 for in the previous decade. Cant say I blame him but what a loss.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your concern and affection for Arthur's Tavern. We are hanging in there! Come visit us everybody....we're still doing what we've always done!