Eulogizing America’s Old School Watering Holes

Keeping a place that serves drinks open is a difficult task no matter where you do it. As the bartender at my current favorite local bar, Sharlene’s on Flatbush in Brooklyn, told me, “You need to get at least half a million to open a bar in New York anymore. You need investors and shit,” before launching into the laundry list of organizations trying to shut you down, from churches that he said he’s seen petition to get new bars from getting a liquor license, to the health department and other local officials with power to wield. I learned this at my first real neighborhood spot as an almost-adult, which was also my first introduction to just how hard it is for bar owners to stay open. I never learned the place’s name because it didn’t have a sign on the door, and Googling “Logan Square bar closed 2000” doesn’t help much. What I do remember was there were maybe seven bottles of liquor on display, they served Budweiser, Bud Light and Old Style, and Heineken was the most expensive thing on the menu.

Jason Diamond writing in The Awl about the continued disappearance and transformation of America’s salt of the earth neighborhood bars, and the idea of the so-called “dive bar.” (Full disclosure: Diamond references an essay I wrote about Los Angeles’ storied King Eddy Saloon.)

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