‘HiFi’ on Avenue A will Close at the End of the Month
The best jukebox in Alphabet City will be muted.
The HiFi Bar, the long-running rock hang on Avenue A, is closing at the end of the month. Its current incarnation lasted since 2002, when the bar morphed from Brownies.
Owner Mike Stuto, who began booking shows at Brownies in 1994 and later returned as partner, took to Facebook last night to announce the imminent closure of the much-loved haunt, noting that the decision to walk away was not due to a poor landlord. Rather, the changing demands of a demographic that overlooks the establishment. Word spread like wildfire.
I (sorta) regret to inform you that my bar HiFi will be closing at the end of this calendar month, ending my 23 year tenure at 169 Avenue A. All parties booked before the end of the month will happen as planned. The story? Quite simply, the renovations we undertook a few years ago to reinvigorate the business were not successful in putting us back on a good financial footing.The generation of people who inhabit this neighborhood on weekends remain mostly indifferent to the place. HiFi seems to occupy a place square in the middle between “dive bar” and “mixologist paradise” — and while I hoped that would help us have a broad appeal to the newbies, it turns out that it translated as utilitarian (aka boring) to their tastes. Could we have pivoted again? Yeah I guess so, but it turns out that I only want to run a bar if its one that I would want to hang out in. Otherwise it’d just be a job I have no passion for. And I don’t want to live like that.
I want it to be clear that the building’s landlord is in no way to blame for this outcome. Yes, the commercial rents in this neighborhood are all over-the-top insane, but at every turn, throughout the roughly 20 years that Time Equities has managed the building they have been an ideal landlord in pretty much every sense of the word. I have been lucky and honored to work with them and to know that there are good honorable people everywhere, even in nyc commercial real estate. Who woulda thunk it?
For the past 18 months or so I have known this outcome was inevitable, and in that time I have passed through all of the “stages of grief” about this era of my life coming to an end. There is no shame in being a 50 year old who no longer knows how to appeal to 25 year olds. So while this is at best a bittersweet moment, I am happy with the end result and very excited about what the future may bring.