It's been a piece of news we've quite frankly been trying to bury. We've spent the week in hope that things would change, and this "say it ain't so..." moment would turn around. The longest and best happy hour in the city is going!
Beth and Josh are closing The Hourglass Tavern and Bettibar at the end of this month. Their last day will be Wednesday September 30.
"What we’ve knocked out from this hovel and done in this space has been miraculous! It takes a special group of lunatics to get it right from literally a 200yr old closet," said owner Beth Sheinis. "I will miss this quirky, unique building from hell that has herself tried to take me down more than a few times, and failed."
The story of Bettibar and The Hourglass Tavern on Restaurant Row came in on a recession and will go out in a pandemic.
"There is no shame in this game!" said Beth. "We are so grateful for a spectacular 11 years here, no small feat."
Beth paid tribute to the 16 they employed pre-pandemic and those who kept things going as they came back."Service runs through both Maria and my veins and Willy has been a beast in these streets-bar backing, tasking, security ass-whooper he is," she said. "Either Tony or Antonio are working alone for social distancing, but completely alone in the kitchen. Josh is now quite the plumber, electrician, general 'what the hell is that' troubleshooter, and creative artist these days. My skills have been enhanced tenfold from this amazing experience, if not my patience. Ok, not my patience.
"So here’s to all of you that have a great memory. Alas, the landlord wants their building back, and it isn’t normal out here, but I wouldn’t trade a day of flooding, or crumbling, or scheduling nightmare, for a moment of our Restaurant Row successes!"
She told us that the business can’t be sustained at even 50% capacity in their small spaces, so fighting to stay with no abatement of rent and to repay the security and deposit is simply not financially doable without theater.
So what next for Beth and Josh? "I’m off to my off-grid compound (seriously), to catch my breath with my retired stage hand and 2 little spoiled dogs until it gets too cold. Hopefully I will want to return for my next big happening at a lesser rent with fewer volatile jackasses in the streets and with a Blue wave in the White House. I can only hope for any one of the 3!"
The reaction to the pending closure has brought a flood of tributes on social media.
"The wonderful unique speakeasy space you created is/was such a joy for all of us. My friends from out of town beg to come to Bettibar and the regulars are a wonder and I'm thrilled to count them all as friends. You didn't just build a restaurant, you contributed to the theater community and it won't soon be forgotten." Herrick Goldman.
"It breaks my heart, another small business lost to Covid-19. This is a terrible loss to W.46th Street and Ninth Ave, certainly Restaurant Row and all of Hell's Kitchen. I have not felt this sad about the loss of an easy, welcoming haven for me and many, particularly in the Broadway community, since the closing of McHale's. Both beloved, neighborhood anchors for locals and the lucky tourists let in on the magic of what it really is to live in New York City. A city that now will be much less for the loss." Tom Viola, Executive director at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
"I’ll always be grateful for the Hourglass Tavern and Beth Sheinis for creating my safest place in my 20s in Manhattan. I love very few places as much as I love that bar." Kelly Higgins.
"This makes me so incredibly sad. Such a magical place thanks to you, Josh and your staff. The Hourglass has been such an integral part of my time here in Hell's Kitchen, introducing me to so many wonderful people." Edward Meisner.
"I am heartbroken for us all. I called Bettibar my home. I am an orphan again. I give a hug to everyone that works there and that I have met there." TJ D'Angelo.
"I keep starting to type something and then backspacing. Can't find all the words I want to say but it goes something like this: You made magic for 11 years, and I can't wait to experience the warmth and magic that is to come in your next endeavor!!! You are golden, Girl!!! I hate that it came to this, but as the great Dr. Seuss said: 'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened!'" Ellen Sarah Perry Miller