LOCATION Long Island City
RENT $900 [market]
SQUARE FEET 1,300 [former corner bar]
OCCUPANTS Richard Howard [musician; marketing associate, United Way of Tri-State]; Mary Potts [copywriter]
So, this place used to be a bar starting back in the ’50s. I thought it would be like—hey Lou, gimme another, schlurp, schlurp. Then Belle walks in after the guys knock off from the factory. Hiya, Belle, you’re looking swell. What’s it to you, Buster? Then she says to someone else, Let me tell you a thing or two, Mr. Smarty. I’m goin’ over by Carl. Carl wants to dance, don’t you, Carl? People are bouncing up and down on the dancefloor. On the other hand, my friend who lives nearby said, It’s so Kierkegaard in there, staring at the tile floor and thinking about despair and Either/Or. So I thought it would be like that but it’s so . . . ’80s, almost a little tiki. [Mary] The red devil lights. [Richard] The same woman had had it for years. She let the lease expire in ’89. When it closed, it was called Just a Pub. There’s an old guy in the neighborhood. He said he used to mop the floors for cash.
They’d say, Hey kid, over here. Oh, never mind. The neighbors said a lot of mafia types were hanging out here.
Mafia types are so boring, with their predictable, dopey crimes. I was thinking more of people committing adultery that leads to doom and ruin. [Mary] Adultery’s cool.
You have so many bar chairs. [Richard] I got eight stools from Gothic Cabinet Craft.
My friend said you keep the cat box behind the bar. He knows because he came to your Wednesday-night jazz sessions. He said the jazz was of a really high caliber, not self-indulgent nonsense. Then he said that when Mary came home, you were thrilled over her purchase of extension cords. There’s something so verboten about living in a place that was meant for commercial public life. You get to stay up all night in it. No bartender making the rules. I’ve lived here long enough [since February 2001] that I don’t have that feeling of living in a place that’s not a living place. Mary moved in in early 2003.
I just noticed the string of lights around the bottom of the bar. [Mary] We got this idea from Casimir in the East Village. We don’t go to bars a lot.
Richard said you both don’t drink very much. That’s why we met on match.com.
Isn’t it redundant to go to a bar? There’s almost a weird, sick pleasure in watching people throw money around in a bar, all crowded and noisy. We have our own private bar. We watch Nova on PBS. People give us a lot of bar-themed gifts. I thought about doing some Bavarian elfy stuff. [Richard] We have a three-compartment sink, a giant exhaust. [Mary] When I first met Richard, I thought, Oh, he must be another one of those ladies’-man jerks. [Richard] She didn’t even see this place until our third date. [Mary] He had this comforter on the bed, Tarzan leopardskin. [Richard] My boss gave it to me. [Mary] Yet he’s the nicest, sweetest guy. [She explains match.com.] [Richard] We met at Barnes & Noble in Union Square. [Mary] I didn’t expect him to be so handsome and I ran up the escalator. On our second date, I was all pretending it wasn’t Valentine’s Day. Let’s go to the Native American museum, I said. Later, he ran in this bodega and got me some tulips. But then later I thought—oh, those are sympathy tulips. He knows I’m a woman and I’m alone. I was living in Jersey City, flowerless. The third time . . . [Richard] . . . We saw Black Hawk Down in the neighborhood.
I’ve never understood why they wore all that noticeable equipment to carry out the mission. [Mary] His friends were over, drinking beer. I’m thinking, I wish they’d leave.
But then . . . [The pages flip by on the calendar.] He got me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas.
Oh. [Richard] Mary loves to bake.