After more than a decade in business on the Lower East Side, the owners of Fontana’s, the Eldridge Street bar and performance venue, have decided to call it quits.
Here’s what they told us:
We would like to thank our loyal customers, the bands that have played and our family of employees for an amazing 12 year run. As proprietors it’s been wonderful to serve the community in which we’ve lived, worked and played for over 23 years. It has become increasingly hard to be an independent business in New York city without compromising your vision. Choices get made due to economic strain and we are no longer willing to bend to that pressure. We set out to operate a neighborhood rock bar and that has become economically unfeasible. It’s been a wild ride. Please stop by so we can say goodbye.
Fontana’s, located just above Grand Street, is run by Holly Ferrari, Mary Finn and Deannie Wheeler. The sprawling venue features three bars, including a basement performance space. Over the years, it’s hosted a huge number of musical performances, standup comedy and a popular trivia night. Fontana’s is a favorite spot for local groups to hold special events and after-parties. The bar up front has always served as a laid back, friendly bastion off the beaten track from the neighborhood’s overheated nightlife scene.
In 2008, the Zarin family (of Harry Zarin Fabrics) sold the four-story building housing Fontana’s, 105-107 Eldridge St., for more than $9 million. The bar owners have faced steep rent hikes over the years. If they had chosen to sign another lease, monthly payments would have topped $30,000, three times what they were paying in the early years.
Fontana’s hasn’t set an exact closing date, but it will be sometime in the spring.