Fontana’s Bar is Closing After 12 Years on Eldridge Street

105-107 Eldridge St.

105-107 Eldridge St.

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.

Comedy Stars Come to Fontana’s This Weekend For Podfest 2014

Michael Shannon’s “Corporal” Has Release party At Fontana’s Tonight

Michael Shannon and Corporal performed last month at Fontana’s. Photos by Jasper Coolidge.

If you’re a fan of Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon, you probably know he’s a man of many talents.  He’s been starring in Soho Rep’s Uncle Vanya, a show that’s getting a lot of positive buzz.   Shannon also leads an indie rock trio, Corporal, which just released a new MP3, Obama. Their release party takes place tonight at Fontana’s.  Admission is $10 and includes a copy of the 7″.

Corporal was also at Fontana’s (a Shannon hangout) last month.   These photos were shot by Jasper Coolidge during that performance.  As you might expect, Shannon has a very intense stage presence and the band is a pretty wide range stylistically. The other members of the group are Ray Rizzo and Robert Beitzel.  Tonight the doors open at 9; Corporal goes on at 11. Fontana’s is located at 105 Eldridge Street.

“Vegan Drinks” at Fontana’s Tonight

As our regular readers know, we cast a pretty wide net here at The Lo-Down in search of all sorts of happenings in this famously diverse neighborhood. It’s in this spirit that we pass along word of a new event debuting tonight at Fontana’s: Vegan Drinks.  Details via the group’s web site:

Vegan Drinks is a monthly social networking* event for people interested in promoting veganism and advocating for animal rights. Vegan Drinks’ mission is to bring together a diverse group of people—from cupcake aficionados to animal lawyers to veg*ns of all stripes in between—to build new coalitions and promote the sharing of resources. Vegan Drinks is for newbies and oldies. All we expect is an interest in animal rights, veganism and the pursuit of after-work fun. Show up and introduce yourself, pass around business cards (if you’ve got ‘em) and embarrass yourself at least once an hour.

Interested? Click here for more info.

Inked Magazine Celebrates 2012 Calendar Release on the Lower East Side Tonight

Our friends at Fontana’s are hosting the final stretch of the Inked Magazine Sailor Jerry 2012 Calendar Release Party this evening at 11:30pm.  You can catch the Sailor Jerry “tour” with the 2012 Calendar Girls at 133 Essex (a.k.a. Sons of Essex) at 9:30p and at 127 Ludlow (a.k.a. Motor City) before they land at Fontana’s.  Should be a fun night for fans of Inked Magazine, or tattooed pin-up girls, or anyone who likes rum, for that matter.  FREE // 11:30p // 105 Eldridge St.

TLD’s CMJ Music Showcase: Saadi

We hope you’ll be able to make it to The Lo-Down’s CMJ Music Showcase at Fontana’s tomorrow night. It’s going to be a fun and eclectic evening featuring Andrew Vladeck, Less The Band, the Desert Sharks and Boshra al Saadi.

TLD’s CMJ Music Showcase: Andrew Vladeck

Andrew Vladeck at the Mercury Lounge. Photo by Brett Deutsch.

The Lo-Down’s CMJ Music Showcase is only four days away. We hope you’ll join us Tuesday night at Fontana’s for a great night of performances from bands with Lower East Side ties. Among the musicians taking part: indie folk/rock artist Andrew Vladeck.

Even if you don’t know his music, you know Andrew’s famous family. His great-grandfather, Baruch Charney Vladeck, was a towering figure in Lower East Side politics — and a leader of the American Socialist Party (the Vladeck Houses are named for him).

TLD’s CMJ Music Showcase Profile: Less The Band

LESS The Band

Beginning today, we’ll be offering up profiles of the bands taking part in The Lo-Down’s CMJ Showcase, which is coming to Fontana’s on Tuesday evening. First up — Less The Band, which started off as a fictional group in prolific playwright Adam Rapp’s, “Finer Noble Gases” (2004). 

The Lo-Down Presents: CMJ Showcase at Fontana’s

Saadi, "Bad Seeds" (The Soundmen Remix); Redbud Records.

We’re getting excited for The Lo-Down’s CMJ Showcase at Fontana’s October 18th — and you’re all invited!  We’ll be kicking off the annual music festival with a great Lower East Side-centric evening curated by Ken Beasley, TLD’s music editor.  One of the things we’re passionate about is supporting this neighborhood’s amazing creative community. Our CMJ Showcase is a great opportunity to celebrate their artistic contributions.  Here’s the lineup:

Just this week, IFC called LES resident Boshra al Saadi an “indie electro goddess.” A CMJ veteran, this Syrian-born singer-songwriter has been part of the downtown music scene for 15 years — since she was 17. The eccentric, experimental artist says her diverse influences include: Bob Dylan, classic 80′s synth pop, traditional Arabic music, punk rock, Nigerian music and Brian Eno.  Check out Saadi’s new video – “Bad Seeds” (The Soundmen Remix).

Open Call For The Lo-Down’s CMJ Showcase at Fontana’s, Oct. 18th!

The Lo-Down is teaming up with Fontana’s on Eldridge Street to put on an October CMJ concert showing off the best of what the Lower East Side has to offer.

The Lower East Side has always been a fountain of musical talent. From Irving Berlin to The Velvet Underground to Lady Gaga — our neighborhood has inspired songs like Suzanne Vega’s “Ludlow Street” and “The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side” by The Magnetic Fields.

Great Prizes Up for Grabs at LES Trivia Night!

A Russ & Daughters Classic Bagel and Lox Sandwich, one of the many great prizes proffered, via gift certificate, at LES Trivia Night with The Lo-Down (photo via Lox Populi at

Did we mention there are some fantastic local prizes to be had at our LES Trivia Night tomorrow evening?  Along with tasty snacks and great drink specials on hand, winners of each round of trivia will be treated to some great LES staples, including free movie passes from the Sunshine Cinema, pickle gift certificates from The Pickle Guys, a book basket brimming with books from the Tenement Museum’s bookstore and to top it all off, Grand Prize winners will garner a Russ & Daughters gift certificate for a bagel sandwich!

Join us with the Tenement Museum at Fontana’s!  We look forward to enjoying a fun evening on the LES.  FREE // 6:30pm // 105 Eldridge Street.

JOIN US! For a Night of LES Trivia

Comedienne Jesica Delfino, who will be hosting our LES Trivia Night on June 28th.

We are thrilled to be co-sponsoring a night of Lower East Side trivia with our friends at the Tenement Museum’s Tenement Talks series.

The fun-filled night is also sponsored by Fontana’s, where the event will take place at 6:30p on Tuesday, June 28th.

The fantastic and lovely musical comedienne Jessica Delfino will be our wonderful host for the evening.

There will be plenty of drink specials, tasty treats from the neighborhood (did we mention cupcakes?) and exciting prizes from local businesses…Plus, all kinds of fun trivia about the Lower East Side. Categories will include: History, Music, Famous People, Landmarks and more…so grab your neighbors and join us for an exciting night of LES trivia and culture!

Visit us on Facebook for more details.

FREE // 6:30-8:00p // 105 Eldridge St.

Power Punk Trio “Missy Sport” Debuts Album at Fontana’s Tonight

When Lo-Down Music Contributor Ken Beasley isn’t playing flamenco guitar, writing music and lyrics for his folk-roots-rock band Ken Beasley & Co. or reporting back to us about other fantastic musicians, he spends his time as lead guitarist of the power-punk three-piece band known as Missy Sport. Beasley tells us “the Sport” hails from a random basement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, “with musical roots sunk deep in the guts of dirty 1980s punk rock.”

Open & Closed: Food, Drink, Shopping Edition (Updated 12:40pm)

Essex Street, next to Seward Park. Photo by Peter Rojas, via yfrog.

More opening/closing news – food, drink and shopping edition:

  • Fontana’s will be open by 3pm.  Free Wifi.  Serving Hot Chocolate, coffee and Hot toddies!
  • Moo Shoes on Orchard hopes to be open by 1 or 2pm.
  • Babycakes is closed.
  • Roni-Sue’s Chocolates is closed.
  • Berkli Parc, the new coffee shop at Allen & Delancey, is open. Fresh scones are coming out of the oven!
  • Northern Spy is closed for lunch but serving dinner.
  • Dora on East Broadway. Build the first snowman outside their shop and your coffee is FREE for a week!

LES Music Tonight

We hear Living Days will be playing a FREE show tonight at White Slab Palace (you know, the place with the really tall stools and the falling caribou…) Also in the roundup:

Wolf In A Spacesuit - at Pianos tonight

Starting at 8pm - Joyous Noise, Ritz Riot, Eros and Cham Cham are at Fontana’s.

It’s Hi-Scores Recording Library Label Launch ($8) at Pianos with - Steel Phantoms, Dinosaur Bones Band [watch the impressive found footage video on myspace after the jump], and Wolf in a Spacesuit.
An all ages show with The Uglysuit ($5 at the door) starts the night off at the Living Room at 5:30pm followed by – Vicky Emerson, Mother Banjo, Libby Johnson , Milton and The Uglysuit (again at 10p).

Rocky Votolato, Golden Bloom, Peasant, Thieving Irons are at Mercury Lounge.