When I got the news about this early this afternoon my emotions were not so much mixed and instead were thoughts of outrage, sadness and a realization that the city that I love to explore at numerous events is changing far too much for my liking. This being said I am sad to inform anyone who is reading this site that our much visited pub, Smith’s Bar will be closing up its doors for good this coming Thursday, 10/30/2014. The words are striking me hard as I type them in.
I first walked into Smith’s Bar at the suggestion of a friend whom I was meeting after a horrible interview that I had and at the time the place looked completely different inside. There was a steamed meat counter where you could get turkey, roast beef or corned beef and cabbage and a group of booths that were set off from the main bar by a divider. The atmosphere was “dingy” for lack of a better word but this was what all who came to join me there before Metal shows, exactly the type of bar we all loved. A gritty, NYC, basic no holds barred bar. Cheap beers, decent music pumping out of a jukebox and staff that always kept your thirst at bay. That first visit was twelve years ago and while my Foursquare social network shows me with far too many “check ins” to the place than I would care to admit, I can let on that the calculation they have pales by comparison. Don’t worry about that though as there were plenty of “I’m only here to eat” occasions in that number.
Smith’s Bar had been in operation for just about 60 years according to what I learned and since beginning my little website writing and photography adventures this pub had become the standard starting off point for countless shows that took place at the Nokia Theatre Times Square (now known as the Best Buy Theater), B.B. King Blues Club and sometimes for the shows that were happening way down at both Stage 48 and Terminal 5. The last two were random occurrences but with all the great stuff that was going on at Best Buy and B.B.’s were surely got our Smith’s time in.
My friends and I always managed to get some good eats over at Smith’s Bar and I was regularly adding our dishes to my Foodspotting account for good measure. My most favorite of their offerings were the Sissy McGuire Hamburger, the Reuben Sandwich and of course their always tasty hot buffalo wings. I’ve shared some photos below for your viewing pleasure. They are making me hungry and please keep your calorie counting comments to yourselves alright 🙂
There were those chance nights were if the show being attended ended on the early side that we would head back to Smith’s Bar for some post-gaming. This would only be for an additional hour but they were fun just the same. Below is a shot of me after something that was rocking and since it was dark I had to sport the shades to block the flash.
When you went back to Smith’s later in the evening you could almost always catch some cool band on the stage that they had in the main dining room. The renovated space had the main bar side which was where we usually stayed and the larger restaurant side that had plenty of more tables and a small stage for some Rock and Roll. I don’t recall who this was that was playing but here are a couple of shots of a band that I snapped during one of these outings. Considering I took photos I must have liked them 🙂 Yes I asked them to play some KISS but they did not know any offhand. That much I do remember.
Over the last twelve years, I’ve actively championed numerous pre-gaming hangs with my fellow music media colleagues, scores of fans and even the once in awhile band member that was performing that very night. There were even some occasions where the revelry that we had going on inspired visiting tourists to come to the shows that were being hit after some beverages. I made sure to bring friends from other countries to this bar when they visited town and they always had a nice time as well and went home with tales of their own. Suffice it to say there were plenty of stories told and countless toasts made to all the things that we respected and admired in our personal worlds. There were often debates about numerous musical and life topics, the occasional disagreement about a sporting event but through it all, we never had a bad time at Smith’s Bar. As I write this part down its making me smile as I reflect on the whole bunch of them but even behind the smile is the sad realization that this public house was going away.
As I close this post up I wanted to thank all of the folks who made my nights there a lot of fun in terms of the staffers, Megan, Nicki, Michelle, Irina, Rachel an even the bouncer Brian who I would sometimes talk about Metal with when he didn’t have his hands full. Of course there are even thanks to all my Big Apple Metal show companions who hit the bar with me before whatever the hell we had going on. What I would love from those friends is for them to share their own Smith’s Bar memories in our comments section. It will make this toast a little more impacting. Goodbye Smith’s Bar, I am going to do my best to get to you one more time before Thursday that is for sure. Who’s with me?
PS: I neglected to mention this in the reflections above but it was skyrocketing rent that appears to have done Smith’s Bar in. My guess is that a new Starbuck’s opens in its place to go perfect next to the overpriced Shake Shack across the street. My options up here are limited now in terms of “regular” experiences since we already lost the Bull Moose Saloon down the street. NYC has already taken away the previously lamented Acme Restaurant and then Nice Guy Eddie’s. If Duke’s ever goes away I might have to leave the Big Apple.