Volume 81, Number 21 | October 27 - November 2, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Bob Abramson of House of Oldies records is sad Grey Dog cafe is gone — but he might possibly have a vintage single of “Black Dog” for sale.

Grey Dog closes on Carmine, but sniffs out new spot

By Khiara Ortiz

Commercial leases and taxes are gradually killing off small business in the East and West Village, and the Grey Dog cafe at 33 Carmine St. was made another victim last week.

A “funeral party celebration” was held on Wednesday before owners and brothers Pete Adrian and David Ethan closed the doors of their 15-year-old establishment. A problem with the landlord involving property taxes and a commercial lease that was never created until almost a decade into the regular lease is to blame.

“Our landlord demanded that we pay him a percentage of the property tax increases retroactive to the beginning of the lease’s term,” said Adrian. “It was a ridiculously high number, over $100,000. We knew we had to pay because he wouldn’t let us stay otherwise.”

According to Adrian, the landlord “fabricated the whole story” and wouldn’t accept any of the brothers’ offers, though they promised to pay him the six-figure amount.

“He was angry at us for taking so long to decide to give him the money,” added Adrian. “We actually started giving him money as a gesture of good faith but he would not renew our lease.”

Around 200 people, including oldtime customers, the staff and a band, packed into the Grey Dog on Wednesday evening last week for the last time.

“It was a nice way to celebrate the magic that happened in that space,” said Adrian.

A new location, at 244 Mulberry St., opened up on Oct. 22 after six months of work the brothers put into it.

“I think we’re trading up to a better space because it’s bigger and more beautiful, but much more expensive,” Adrian said. “I’ll miss the old neighborhood. It’ll take a while for us to establish ourselves and the crowd might be a little more Euro-y.”

Grey Dog does have a couple of other Manhattan locations, including one on University Place and one on 16th St. in Chelsea, but the Carmine St. was the original.

Bob Abramson, who owns the House of Oldies record store next door to where the Carmine St. Grey Dog used to be, said he’s going to miss it. Not only did he like the place, its owners and staff, it also brought him business.

“Even if they don’t know what a turntable or a record is, everyone’s got an uncle or someone who’s an Elvis or Dylan fan,” he noted last Thursday, a day after the cafe had closed. “People would wander in with a coffee cup, look around and buy a record.”

A regular popped in to buy a vinyl 45 of Todd Rundgren’s 1972 hit “Hello It’s Me” and Abramson took his $10 for it.

“And the people they had working there were great — one was nicer than the next,” he continued. And if that wasn’t enough, Ethan always made certain he could go to the head of the unfailingly long line to get his cup of joe in the morning.

With reporting
by Lincoln Anderson

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