Mars Bar is a loud, dirty, graffitti-washed crumbling cement block of a spot where denizens guzzle whiskey, packed in like sardines.
It’s also is a bit of a sore thumb on Second Avenue. Mars Bar is garish and gross; it’s on an street that’s so clean you could have a blanket-less picnic with your tofu from Whole Foods, which is conveniently located right next door. Mars Bar is a loud, dirty and full of unapologetic malcontents, seemingly of another age; outside people pass by, quickly and looking down, on their way to buy a bottle of Riesling and some organic kale for the night’s salad. Mars Bar serves up cheap whiskey and cancer; directly around the corner, Daniel Boulud serves up House-Made Pappardelle “Gourguignon” at DBGB. Mars Bar is not a nice place, and this is what makes Mars Bar one of the best.
It’s a tragedy, then, that a decision by Community Board 3 would force the glorious filth hole to close for two years and remodel extensively, Eater reports from a New York Times story on proposed low-income housing on Second Ave. BFC Partners, the project’s developers, will ask the board for approval tomorrow.
Mars Bar is clearly not the joint for everyone — oftentimes, we’ve found it’s a great place to take someone you don’t really like, to scare them — and many must be in favor of the closing. One of these people is Hank Penza, the owner and man who has to spend an unseemly amount of time there. He’s confident he can stay afloat while the bar is closed.
“They won’t choke me,” Penza told the Times. “I didn’t get off the boat yesterday with a pound of spaghetti in my hand.”
But if the plans get approved we’ll be pouring some out for Mars Bar. It will be a markedly different stroll down Second Avenue without the old drunken punks collapsing out the door, growling the words to a Germs song, and stumbling down the street.
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