The wrecking ball had been hovering over its ragged rooftop for months, with permanent closure slated for some time at the end of this summer. We had gone in for drinks a couple of times lately to pay our respects as a part of the long, slow goodbye. It would be a summer of last hurrahs for a bona fide, dyed in rot gut NYC dive bar. One of the last "Manhattan Mall" resistors dug its heels in at the S.W. corner of Second Ave and 1st st, grimy on the inside and covered with graffiti on the outside, as neighbors like CBGBs surrendered to development over time. August would be the time for old regulars and curiosity seekers alike to pull up a wobbling stool, order a drink, load up the juke-box, and soak in the pre-gentrification atmosphere before the whole corner was razed. A new condominium was inevitable. Not to mention a Jamba Juice. Or a Bank of America.
But yesterday, the Department of Health stepped in early and pulled the plug on that glorious hardcore juke-box and the Mars Bar in general. Citing numerous violations in the "bar/restaurant" (what kind of sick asshole would consider that even a partial restaurant?) including "850 fruit flies". My, aren't we specific DOH? Are you sure there wasn't "851"? In bed with the developers in some way, I'd imagine, the DOH deprived an East Village institution of its last go round in a Bowery district that has now been completely stripped of its soul. And a juke-box that made room for for Hank Williams Sr and the Dead Boys has gone dark, for good. So, watch your back "Lucy's", "Sophies", "Max Fish", and "Holiday Bar". America runs on Dunkin'.
NYT coverage here.
R.I.P. Mars Bar.