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A Look Back at Holiday Cocktail Lounge, After the Last Hurrah

Photos: Noah Fecks.

Yesterday, The Local showed you a mural (possibly 80 years old) excavated during renovations of the former Holiday Cocktail Lounge space. If that got you feeling nostalgic for the old dive, by all means indulge in the slideshow above. Back in February, our photographer Noah Fecks found time – in between cooking meals from every issue of “Gourmet” magazine in his East Village apartment – to wander into the Holiday just days after The Local published photos from the final night of service. These postmortem shots, published here for the first time, are a fine tribute to the St. Marks stalwart.

Roman Lutak, Former Owner, Bids Farewell to Holiday Cocktail Lounge

thanksLauren Carol Smith The Holiday Cocktail Lounge’s shutter, days after
the bar closed.

The Holiday Cocktail Lounge had been a part of his life for 58 years — and after his father’s death, it was time to let go. Finally.

Speaking for the first time since selling the revered dive on St. Marks Place — and the five-story building that housed it — Roman Lutak expressed relief that he was, in a way, emerging from his father’s shadow and getting out of the bar business that had been in his family for four generations.

“My parents, they did this. I didn’t do it, I just happened to be along for the ride,” Mr. Lutak said over coffee on 14th Street.

Today, the new owner of the building, Robert Ehrlich, is scheduled to go before Community Board 3 and likely reveal his plans for the bar on the ground floor. Whatever they may be, he has some big shoes to fill. Stefan Lutak, who bought the bar in 1964, was as closely associated with the Holiday Cocktail Lounge as Lucyna Mickievicius is associated with her bar, Lucy’s. It was hard to imagine one existing without the other. Read more…

Photos: Last Night at Holiday Cocktail Lounge

Photos: Vivienne Gucwa

Getting a table or a bar stool at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge Saturday night was nearly impossible. The 47-year-old dive was wall-to-wall with regulars, there to pay respects on its final night.

“I came here before I was legal,” said Angela Martenez, who frequented the Holiday in the 1990s. “The drinks were strong and cheap. And the little twinkly Christmas lights were friendly, and that’s what I needed in my life at the time.”

From all corners of the city, former East Villagers returned to the Holiday for one last beer. Read more…

Last Call at Holiday Cocktail Lounge

IMG_0684Stephen Rex Brown Louis Fugazy kept the drinks coming last night at Holiday Cocktail Lounge.

Word had gotten around by the time the regulars started arriving: after 47 years, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge will close on Saturday. Not surprisingly, the shots just kept coming.

“Everybody that ever stepped foot in this bar is going to come through in the next three days,” said bartender Louis Fugazy. Over the years, those characters have included W. H. Auden, Leon Trotsky, and Allen Ginsberg, when they lived on the block. And urban legend has it that Madonna named “Holiday” after the bar (this much is certain: punk-pop band the Bouncing Souls immortalized the dive in a song that shares its name).

Over drinks, many of the regulars sitting around the semicircular bar bemoanded the state of the neighborhood, which recently has endured the loss of Mars Bar, another beloved dive. “Gentrification is moving out all the old standbys,” said Jeff Tendler, who was working the door. “The neighborhood is becoming full of chains, and the little guy is getting pushed out.” Read more…