Volume 80, Number 29 | December 16- 22, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Hank Penza, owner of the classic dive Mars Bar, at First St. and Second Ave., center at right, hanging out with Mars Bar regulars, is facing a decision amid news that the place will soon have to close for two years while a 12-story residential building is constructed on the site. Penza has the option of reopening in a new space once the project is done, but would have to pay a higher rent. Said documentarian Clayton Patterson, “I love Hank. He’s had other bars on the Bowery. He tells great stories. Hank sits out there a lot. He kind of supervises that corner. [Filmmaker] Jonas Mekas used to go over there and have a white wine. It’s more of a bohemian bar, not a dive bar. A lot of artists would go there.” Two other legendary Lower East Side nightspots on Ludlow St., Max Fish bar and Pink Pony restaurant, are also facing closure at the end of next month due to escalating rent. Patterson said indignantly, “What are they trying to build there? What’s the purpose? There’s three unfinished buildings on that block, two empty hotels. Lucien let a lot of artists eat in there for free,” he said of the Pink Pony’s owner.