The East Village must be getting used to all these closings by now. First, it was Mars Bars on East First Street; then Banjo Jim’s on East Ninth Street; and, now, the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B will see its doors close for good. In an e-mail message to Runnin’ Scared, co-owner Eric Ambel confirmed that, “after 16 years on Avenue B, our last night will be April 30.” What a shame.
And, like its other friends in the dive bar graveyard, the Lounge will be replaced by an upscale server of liquor — a sign of the changing neighborhood, struck by gentrification and rising wealth. As the New York Music Daily writes, the local hangout and its $3 PBRs will be replaced by “a gentrifier whiskey joint, no doubt with $19 cocktails.”
In 1997, just as Alphabet City was recovering from a decade of turmoil and crime, Jim Marshall and Eric Ambel opened the Lounge right next door to the now-closed Life Cafe on 10th and B. It was a place where “the stories you’ve heard [about it] are most certainly true,” according to its website.
Known for its local musical acts and jukebox, the Lounge soon joined the ranks of the East Village underground rock scene, giving a home to groups like Spanking Charlene and Tom Clark & the High Action Boys. It didn’t pay the bands or charge a cover; it was a symbiotic relationship where the bands got airtime and the bar goers were entertained for the night.
Unfortunately, with a real estate market that now averages $3,000 a month for a two bedroom window-less apartment, this business structure of cheap drinks and basically free acts was not enough for the bar to make ends meet.
The acts will continue to play until the end of the month, with Ambel’s band playing the closing night. Stop by the Lounge before then to see what the East Village is really all about.
“I’m a good novelist and I’ll get better. I’ve found my calling and if I have my way I’ll be turning out books for the next half-century, books that will blow people away. But right now all I want is to be read.”
“Jewish children in years to come may live much like my parents, with a subtle but consuming sense of dread. America could yet turn out to be not so different from the Old World my grandparents fled.”