From Max Fish to Midtown! With Requiem for the Old LES, The Journal Discovers that Neighborhoods Change

20091201 maxfish 560x375 0 From Max Fish to Midtown! With Requiem for the Old LES, The Journal Discovers that Neighborhoods ChangeBeloved grungy downtown bars are dropping like flies. Last week saw the news that Mars Bar, Max Fish, and Pink Pony would all close within the next two months. If your past life was that of the bassist in a nineties hardcore band that gigged at Luna Lounge, a February homecoming may contain some unfortunate surprises.

The Wall Street Journal‘s still-new restaurant beat directs its gaze some 50-odd blocks south of the News Corp. office. Verdict? The Lower East Side is changing!

“I’m looking for another space in the neighborhood,” said Ulli Rimkus, owner of Max Fish, which opened its doors 21 years ago. Ms. Rimkus has lived in the Lower East Side for 30 years. “I’ve seen the changes, and it’s hard,” she said. “The neighborhood has kind of lost its color… I have a feeling that the intention is to make this like the meatpacking district.”

Look at that, a neighborhood has new bars. What’s the evidence that points to a glossing-up of these mean streets?

The hot ticket on the Lower East Side last week was the opening of Beauty & Essex, a multi-story bar where a bartender pours free Champagne in the ladies’ room and a giant pearl chandelier hangs from the ceiling.

To be fair, while the Lower East Side has long been accused of fostering unwelcome gentrification, we stopped by the just-opened Beauty & Essex this weekend and the Journal‘s fear-mongering may be merited. The feel is unmistakably Lavo-esque, and what’s worse, its lavish interior is half-masked by an ironic pawn shop.

Plus, our gender doesn’t even qualify us for free Champagne. Thanks, Beauty & Essex, but no thanks.

nfreeman [at] observer.com | @nfreeman1234