24 April 2012

Kenny's Castaways on It's Way Out?

Bleecker Street may be touristy. It may teem with bridge and tunnel types, an NYU students on the weekends. It may be a long way from the heady music cred days of the 1960s Village folk revival and the 1970s punk insurgence. But the strip has endurance. There's minimal turnover. Many of the same bars and small-time clubs that were there in Dylan's day are there now, including the Back Fence and Bitter End.

One of the oldest, Kenny's Castaways, at 157 Bleecker, may not be long for this world. Eater reported that the Bleecker Street stalwart in on the block, looking for the highest bidder. The owners have tired of the place and are fishing around for a buyer.

The building has a long history. In the 1890s, it was an early gay bar by the name of The Slide, called the wickedest place in New York by the New York Herald. The basement functioned as a brothel. The ceiling, woodwork, and ceramic tile floor from those days are still visible today.

It became Kenny's Castaways in 1974. The first Kenny's was located on E. 84th Street. When the lease was up in 1974, the club moved to Bleecker Street. 

Kenny was Pat Kenny, and his family still owns it. Many a gritty 1970s musical luminary played here: Jeff Buckley, New York Dolls (who played both at the 84th Street location and on Bleecker), Ricky Lee Jones, Steve Forbert, Blondie, Kiss, Patti Smith. Bruce Springsteen performed at the 84th Street Kenny's for a week in 1972. The Smithereens were the house band around 1980. Phish gave its first Gotham concert here in 1988. Joey and DeeDee Ramone met here. And, yes, Spin Doctors played here. 

Ashamed to say I have never been to Kenny's. I will correct that.


Ed said...

It is somewhat amazing these places are still around. Kenny's is not bad, and its sad that it is coming to the end of its run, but if you are on Bleecker Street also try to take in the Bitter End.

Anonymous said...

I have played Kenny's a few times. That place never attracts a crowd.

Ken Mac said...

damn. What's next? Montes?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Bite your tongue, Ken.

However, hate to say it, but I foresee a Gabe Stuhlman or Keith McNally-like takeover in Monte's future.

Ken Mac said...

I actually never thought this would happen on MacDougal. But the old street is down to only two bars full of really annoying drunks, the foodies are making their way in from each end, and it was even tolerable on New Years Eve. There goes the hood!

Anonymous said...

The owners have no idea what they're doing.