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Max Fish Closes on Ludlow Street at the End of July

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Max Fish, 178 Ludlow St. Photo by Alex M. Smith.
Max Fish, 178 Ludlow St. Photo by Alex M. Smith.

As the whole world knows by now, legendary Lower East Side bar Max Fish is moving to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  During an impromptu chat the other afternoon, Max Fish owner Ulli Rimkus told us she’ll be closing the Ludlow Street location at the end of July.  She’s anticipating a big farewell party before packing up for the move to the new space at 130 Metropolitan Avenue.

Max Fish became the epicenter of the neighborhood’s underground, bohemian arts scene shortly after opening in 1989.  Rimkus said she loves the idea of the old New York business that endures in one spot decade after decade and she dreamed that she could stay at 178 Ludlow St. forever.  Eye-popping rent increases, of course, made that impossible.  When Max Fish first opened, Rimkus was paying scarcely more than $2,000 month.   Arwen Properties, her landlord,  is reportedly seeking $20,000/month for the space next door, which was the home of Pink Pony, another local favorite that was forced out in January.

Rimkus said she looked at a large number of spaces in the neighborhood but could not find anything that felt right.  The money was an issue, but it wasn’t the only factor.  The neighborhood has changed so much, she explained, it just didn’t feel as though a bar built around artists and other creative people fit the new LES dynamic.  A new, upscale hotel, just to the north of Max Fish, has been in development for the past seven years.  It was stalled for a long period after the economy cratered. Rimkus said the scaffolding was definitely a problem for her business.

The new location in Williamsburg will have a much different feel. For one thing, it’s a lot bigger.  But Rimkus said she really wants to create something new — not necessarily a replica of the LES classic.  At the same time, she’ll be taking the art and other artifacts collected over the years across the river.  It might be a little tough, however, to retain those famous bathroom walls!

We’ll let you know when we hear details about Max Fish’s final farewell.


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