It was just about this time last year when fans of Lower East Side institution Max Fish crowded into the Ludlow Street bar one more time to say their goodbyes. No one imagined back then that 12 months later Max Fish would be resurrected on the LES. But on Saturday night that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Yesterday we stopped by the new spot at 120 Orchard St. to check on the progress ahead of the Fish’s return.
Owner Ulli Rimkus and her bartenders (now part owners) have been doing all the work themselves. The place is very much reminiscent of the Ludlow Street original, although there are new design twists. First off, the former Gallery Bar space is much bigger. A full basement is still in construction mode. When completed, it will have its own bar and distinct vibe. Rimkus said she’s not trying to recreate the original article. “I don’t want it to be like the old place,” she explained. “I want it to be something new.”
Some people have asked why Rimkus and company decided to keep the name. Her response: “Max Fish is a brand.” The trick over the the next few months and years will be making sure it’s an evolving brand. There will be art shows featuring new artists and some musical performances once a week or so. But Rimkus said they’ll let things develop naturally and see what feels right. She mentioned capturing some of the spirit of venues like Zebulon, the beloved Williamsburg music venue that shuttered a couple of years ago.
It was a relief, Rimkus said, to move on from the space on Ludlow Street, which Max Fish occupied for a quarter century. After a string of landlord disputes, clashes with the cops and living through never-ending construction projects, it feels good to be in a new spot, even if it’s only a couple blocks away. “There was a cloud hanging over me there,” she said. Referring to the new location on Orchard, just above Delancey Street, “I really like this block.”
Max Fish will be open from 4 p.m.-4 a.m. daily.