Busted! (in midtown)

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Sigh. Just when I thought I had found a cool bar in midtown, it had to go and get busted.

Last Friday, I went with a couple of TONY's finest to Single Room Occupancy, which, to my knowledge, is one of the only groovy, low-key bars in the West 50s. So groovy, in fact, that it has no sign, requires a buzzer to get in, and features a respectable Belgian beer selection and an exceptionally snooty bartender.

Well, it turns out her sour mood was justified (though at the time, she didn't know it, and neither did we), because by the end of the night, Girlfriend was out of a job.

We were comfortably polishing off some Malbec and a fizzy raspberry Lambic, minding our own business, when something caught our collective journalist's eye: at least a half-dozen cops, some toting flashlights, some wearing windbreakers (?), swarming the 25-paces--long bar.

We first joked that it must be the music police (Billy Joel's "Big Shot" was playing, after all), but what got us to stop and take notice was this sobering message: "I'm sorry," Snooty Bartender told us when we tried to buy another round. "I can't tell you why, but I can't sell you any more drinks tonight."

Within moments, the cops (mild-mannered and professional) were telling folks to settle up their tabs. The fuzz wouldn't reveal all of the reasons behind the closing of the only cool bar in midtown, but one officer did tell us that Single Room Occupancy did not have the permit required to be in a building basement. Then he fingered our bottle of raspberry Lambic and asked what the stuff we were drinking was (no joke).

I found no additional clues to the sudden demise of Single Room Occupancy when I called the bar today: "Hello, this is Single Room Occupancy," recited the answering machine. "And due to some holidays, uh, coming up, we'll be closed for the time being. Thank you for calling."

I believe I speak for those who desire a little more from midtown nightlife than "sexy" Rande Gerber joints or the many different versions of the Blarney Stone when I say that this development leaves us feeling somewhat downcast. But it was nice, for just a moment, to live in a world with a cool midtown bar in it.

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