Wednesday, March 6, 2019

White Horse Tavern Sold

The White Horse Tavern is one of the oldest, most storied and beloved drinking spots left in New York City. It opened in 1880, hosted the likes of Jack Kerouac, Jane Jacobs, Bob Dylan, and of course Dylan Thomas, who drank his last whiskey there before collapsing and dying at St. Vincent's Hospital. Literary pilgrims still visit the place, which retains much of its 150-year history.

The White Horse seems permanent, impossible to erase, like so many New York institutions of this magnitude, but it is not bulletproof. The building is landmarked, but the bar is not. And now we hear things are about to change.

A dependable tipster writes in to say that he spoke to upstairs tenants and White Horse workers who informed him that the building has been sold for an estimated $14 million -- to the notorious landlord Steve Croman, who recently spent time in Rikers and has frequently been accused of harassing rent-regulated tenants.

Also, on March 14, Community Board 2 will be hearing an application for a new liquor license at the space:

"Eytan Sugaman [sic] or LLC to be formed, d/b/a White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson St. 10014 (OP – Bar/Tavern with sidewalk cafe)"

Sugarman does not open low-key places. He ran the BBQ restaurant Southern Hospitality with Justin Timberlake (who later stepped back; Steve Bannon held a Republican fundraiser there), and he had a club called Suede, frequented by the likes of Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

More recently, Sugarman opened the Hunt and Fish Club, the opulent, hedgefunder-heavy Times Square steakhouse that the Post called "the city’s latest haunt for bigwigs hunting for new deals and beauties fishing for rich husbands." One of Sugarman's co-owners in that project is Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci, Trump's former White House Director of Communications. The exclusive Wall St. restaurant has also hosted Republican fundraisers -- and it serves Scaramucci’s homemade limoncello.

So will the Mooch be helping to run the new White Horse--or whatever takes its place? It's impossible to say just yet. Maybe we'll see a high-end re-do, like the ones that destroyed and/or exclusified Bill's Gay 90s, Minetta Tavern, Rocco's, Fedora, and so many other beloved--and once democratic--classic spots.

My tipster predicts, "White Horse will become Don Trump Jr and Company's FratBro/WhiteBro hang out." Plus Limoncello.

*UPDATE: Eater confirmed the rumors: "Sugarman is insisting that he’s paying attention to the historic aspects of White Horse Tavern. Infrastructure will be updated, though other plans are still to-be-announced. He also did not comment on his landlord’s reputation, responding to an inquiry with 'We are only focused on preserving the rich history and legacy of this iconic institution for New Yorkers.'"

Sugarman and The Mooch, via the Post

This is unsettling news for the great White Horse Tavern, which has been run lovingly and non-exclusively for many years by native New Yorker and former longshoreman Eddie Brennan, who bought the place in 1967, when he was a worker there. He hung the painting of Dylan Thomas in the middle room, and poets still sit beneath it to drink--and drink in the spirit of the place. I did that, too, years ago as a young poet. I wonder if we'll still be able to get in, and if Dylan Thomas will remain.

In the words of that poet, dear White Horse, “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

If you want to give your two cents and hear Sugarman's plans, show up for the liquor license hearing: Thursday, March 14, 6:30 PM, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 151-155 Sullivan St., Lower Hall.


timmmyk said...

SUEDE was next door to my apartment building and was a complete and utter nightmare every single night. My apartment is on 23rd Street and we endured a mind boggling array of noise, violence and filth. Complete disregard for the sanctity and peace of every single resident of 23rd Street between 6th & 7th Avenues.

Bills said...

Romantic New york is dead and gone , Its with your Granny in the grave . Time for upgrades on dirty dives that the rats call home !

Larry said...

I've wondered when this day might come, and here's that day. RIP, White Horse. RIP, Greenwich Village.