Another day, another vestige of old and unpretentious New York disappears: According to its owner, Thai Dang, the Rum House, the piano bar that has sat in the Edison Hotel on West 47th Street for over three decades, will close by the end of the year. Or possibly even sooner.
Long a reliable place for cheap drinks, bowls of pretzels, and the vocal stylings of Karen Brown, the bar was opened 37 years ago by Robert Rosencrans. His grandson Dang, who has worked at the bar for several years, tells Fork in the Road that the Edison “is not willing to renew the lease.” Why not? “If I had the answer, I would let everyone know.”
As for what will become of the space, Dang has heard a few rumors.
“It might be a fancier wine bar or something,” he says. “There are rumors that they’re going to gut the place and make it shiny, and update it and brighten it up.”
Regardless of what the hotel decides to do, Dang says that he and his grandfather won’t be opening another bar once the Rum House is closed. “My grandfather being 74 years old, I think we’re going to call it,” he says. “We live in Pennsylvania, and commute back and forth. It takes two hours. I do that every day.”
And despite the fact that the lease is up at the end of the year, Dang’s commute may end much earlier than that: “There are rumors around the hotel that it might be sooner,” he says of the bar’s closure. “We’re trying to get as many of our friends to say goodbye as soon as possible. We’ve already had to let go of Karen, who’s been with us for 15 years. We’re just trying to go through the closing phases at this point.”