Here's another unfortunate dive closing to round out 2010: longtime basement beer and burger joint The Stoned Crow is shutting its doors after 17 years. Ultraclay breaks the news, noting that The Stoned Crow "has been slinging one of the best burgers in town with little of the hype that has made nearly every other good burger in town an ordeal to get a hold of...Go inside and you'll be rewarded with a laid-back atmosphere, a beer selection that includes some craft beers but doesn't obsess over it and a pretty amazing burger." Reached by phone, owner Betty Gordon reveals the wholly unsurprising reason for the bar's demise:
"Well, the reason why is because I could not make the rent," Gordon tells us. "The rent is so high, and then you have real estate taxes, water, sewage, and they seem unwilling to make any kind of compromise, even with the recession. This bar can't do $11,000 month rent. I have a wonderful following but that's just too high. Then you have Con Ed. So we're talking $2,000 a month plus $11,000, that's $13,000 and you haven't done anything yet—you don't have any beer, you don't have any liquor, there are a million other costs that don't even come into the equation. You need insurance, a license, that's another $4,500.
"There are customers who come to me with tears in their eyes and I feel the same way, but I cant make it. It's the ambiance that makes it. This had been a bar many, many years before I took over, but there were no floors, no bar. It had to be made into the bar. And it's a landmark building. So every little thing that we did had to meet those regulations. But with the decorations I went a little crazy, and put movie posters and lights all over the place. I'm selling the memorabilia that I collected and put up over the years. We're going to sell them right off the walls."
Gordon says the rent started out at $4,000 and rose steadily over the years. "I had hoped it wouldn't go higher than $7,000 but eventually the new property manager, Jeff Brown, bamboozled me. The owners basically live in China and they took on Jeff Brown as new management. I was told some people had bid on it from China and the bidding was up to $13,000. So I agreed to $11,000 a month rent about two years ago. The owners based that number on the amount of space, which is really the wrong way to look at it. It's not the amount of space, it's the amount of people you put in that space. You may fill it on Friday and Saturday but what about Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday? To make that amount of rent you have to fill all those rooms every night. Jeff Brown is a tough cookie, let me tell you.There's no big pounding heart there."
New Year's Eve will be The Stoned Crow's last night, and Gordon intends to sell every last drop of booze and all the memorabilia, so that "they" don't get it. [Via Eater]