The bar near the South Street Seaport couldn’t come back from the hurricane’s devastation, despite robust efforts
On Sunday, February 23, Meade’s pub, at 22 Peck Slip, closed its doors for the final time, another delayed victim of the storm and a changing city landscape.
According to nearby business owners, Meade’s closing is due less to natural disasters like Sandy, and more to man-made disasters like sky-rocketing rents and slow street repairs.
Nicholas Berti, owner of Acqua, an Italian restaurant and wine bar across the street, said while his business had been pretty consistent since re-opening, he was frustrated by impediments to foot traffic, like nearby construction in the street.
“Those stones, they were supposed to last 15 years, already they’re re-doing them,” said Berti. “The city is doing it the cheap way, saving money on asphalt and hurting business.”
“There’s less traffic than there used to be,” said Keg No. 229’s co-owner Calli Lerner. “A lot of people may not know we’re here.” But Lerner was quick to point out that January and February were not good months for a litmus test of business.
Last Sunday, a score of locals turned out for Meade’s last day open. The mood was mostly happy, with regulars circling the bar, waving and chatting. Still, the short conversations always devolved to a tacit frown, acknowledging that their favorite bar was closing its doors. The bar was packed and business was good, just not double-the-rent good.
“It’s not right,” a patron said to Meade’s owner Lee Holin. “It may not be right, but it’s not illegal,” replied Holin.
Meade’s occupies a small space. There are tables on the first floor, with more eating space on the second. Most of the first floor is the bar area, which featured a large mirror running across it, with the daily specials written in dry erase marker. Old wine bottles helped frame a picture of the New York Seaport during the late 17-century.
Jason Totolis, a regular, estimated that he spent a couple nights a week at Meade’s. His favorite drink was the Michelava. “The people here are amazing,” he said just before clinking drinks with the bartender for old time’s sake. Totolis mentioned that the bar was great for many locals, especially during inclement weather, when people would flock to escape big snow storms.
“It’s a gem in the neighborhood,” Totolis lamented. “A real throwback. Unfortunately, a dying throwback.”
Totolis saw another regular, who walked over and said, “I figured I’d stop by and pay my respects.”
And many did. Meade’s demographics are hard to pin down. There were young singles, older couples, and even a baby who was brought in for brunch and played with the bartender. The baby didn’t have a drink, but others did, with mimosas seeming to be the favorite. By mid-afternoon Meade’s was packed, with limited standing room.
“It’s amazing,” said Holin, “A business that has this many people coming out for it, is being shut down. Progress,” he said dryly, stepping outside the pub.
Meade’s first opened in 2006 and its Sandy flood line stood nearly 6-feet tall. A sign was placed near the front door, welcoming patrons with the message “What Is Most Important, Cannot Be Taken Away. We Love You. Thank You. Meade’s 2006-2014.”
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