A Place to Bury Strangers has been called “The Loudest Band in New York.” So, when we heard one of its members was opening a bar on the Lower East Side, we were surprised to learn it would be a tapas place. Sounds so dainty. Well, it turns out that tapas can be just as rock ‘n’ roll as beer and whiskey. All you need is an ironic name — it’s called No Fun — and the right attitude. Drummer/bar co-owner Jay Weilminster explains.
What was your vision for the bar?
There are no tapas bars here, really. We wanted to bring something a little different to the neighborhood and still keep the vibe of the place.
People know you as the drummer for APTBS, but you have also been a bartender for many years.
Yeah, I’ve been working as a bartender for the past 15 years. I’ve been in the service industry since I was 13. I’m 37 now, so a long time.
Who hired you at 13?
I was a dishwasher at a place called Richman’s Ice Cream in South Philadelphia. Then, I was a busboy and worked my way up to waiter. Then, I became a bartender. I really enjoyed the bartending side of things. You really get to talk to people, and it’s a very one-on-one, person-to-person relationship.
Is there much crossover between bartending and the rock ‘n’ roll life?
They both have a lot of drinking. It’s similar in other ways, where you get to meet a lot of cool people and establish cool relationships. It’s different in the way that rock ‘n’ roll is something you feel like you have to do. It’s something inside of you. Whereas bartending is more of a job. It’s like, I could go on with my life not being a bartender. But it would be a lot harder going on with my life not being a musician.
So, are you behind the bar at No Fun?
Yeah, I’m behind the bar! I’m the best bartender on the Lower East Side — of course I’m behind the bar!
Where did the name come from?
It’s kind of an homage to the Stooges. But also, the bar that was there before had a neon sign outside that said “fun,” so people called it “the fun bar.” So, it has a couple connotations but, mainly, we thought it would be funny to have an ironic name. Like, “What are you doing tonight?” “Going to No Fun.” “Well, that’s crazy! It’s actually lots of fun!”
Do you ever feel like the neighborhood is losing its soul?
When I first got to New York 15 years ago, the Lower East Side was just a really fun place to go for artists and musicians. I still love the Lower East Side — it’s my neighborhood and I think it always will be — but it’s evolving. I don’t think it’s lost its soul. It is changing a lot, especially in the past, say, five years. It’s gotten a lot more yuppified, for lack of a better term. But I love the Lower East Side. It’s always going to be an awesome neighborhood.
What’s your favorite tapa on the menu?
The trio of sliders is really good. The first one has bacon and cheese, the second one has red onion and tomato, and the third one is topped with foie gras. My second favorite is the red snapper crostini. It’s amazing.
What’s your usual, as in drink order?
I’m a creature of habit so a Heineken and a shot of Powers is all I really need to get me going for the night.
And your go-to hangover cure?
Good old-fashioned hair of the dog. After a big night of drinking, you can go to brunch and have a Bloody Mary or whatever, but the best way is to start the day with another Heineken and shot of Powers.
Anything coming up at No Fun you want to mention?
Saturday night we’re having a party with DJ Dominique in the back. We’re going to be doing some CMJ stuff. Yeah, we just want people to come down and have fun at No Fun.