For decades, the Lower East Side has conjured up images of strung-out junkies and punk rock. However, as lounges and bars that play host to the prep crowd sprout at a frightening pace, that impression is changing. And as the neighborhood’s first sports bar readies to open, the groans of locals, who remember a more authentic era, can be heard loud and clear.
The Blue Seats will open at 157 Ludlow Street on July 30, and will be the first sports bar to grace the area south of Houston Street and east of First Avenue. Named after the famous seats in Madison Square Garden where loyal fans sit, the bar is the brainchild of Natasha Navidad; she honed her bar management skills at Gramercy watering holes like Bull’s Head Tavern and The Black Bear Lodge.
While the 2,000-square-foot bar will feature many elements prized by the avid sports watcher (72 high-definition flat-screen televisions), it will also offer blueberry mojitos and a raw oyster bar in hopes of distinguishing itself from the traditional New York sports bar.
“After witnessing the dirty dingy bars New Yorkers have grown to call home, I just felt like we deserved better,” Ms. Navidad noted in a press release about the opening. (She could not be reached for comment.)
But does the Lower East Side want “better?” For many, “dirty dingy bars” are exactly what attracted them to the Lower East Side. In a neighborhood where punk concerts regularly trump pigskin on weekend afternoons, Ms. Navidad may have her work cut out.
“This is the problem with this area these days,” a local business owner lamented upon hearing about The Blue Seats. “You have all these places that are moving in and sucking out all the character.”
Local residents were more worried about the prospect of sports fans flooding the neighborhood.
“This area used to be known for good music and good art,” a neighborhood resident told The Observer. “Now we’re going to have to deal with Yankees and Red Sox fans yelling at each other every weekend. Looking forward to that.”