After 22 years in business, an institutional Manhattan dive bar is making its last call sooner than expected.
Skyrocketing rent is forcing Hogs and Heifers in the Meatpacking District to shut its doors Aug. 23. Owner Michelle Dell said she can't afford to make the jump from $14,000 a month to $65,000.
"At the end of the day the neighborhood has changed," Dell said.
The bar became an attraction for its bartop-dancing employees and its collection of bras donated by patrons. Dell claims the 2000 movie "Coyote Ugly" was inspired by her bar, though an East Village bar actually called Coyote Ugly makes the same claim.
In 2013, real estate developer Thor Equities purchased the building on the corner of 13th and Washington Street for $96 million, Dell said. When Hogs and Heifers’ term of lease expired in June 2014, so did their welcome on Washington Street.
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"The reality of being able to manage a 950-square foot gin mill that still sells beer for $5 and a shot for $6 or $7, it’s not doable in such a small space at such a high rent,” Dell said.
Dell said 19 employees, some who have worked there more than 10 years, will lose their jobs.
Longtime patron Jim Pace said, "It hurts because this place is my family, and all these people are going to be losing their jobs. And just because some little boutique is going to go in there? There’s no reason for it. No reason except greed."
Dell will be forced to vacate the premises by Sept. 1, leaving behind 22 years of New York history.
"If it wasn’t for this place, none of this would be here," Pace said, gesturing toward the surrounding shops. "This place was here when this neighborhood was nothing. This place pretty much cleaned it up and enabled all these businesses to come in."
A Las Vegas location of the bar remains open.
An email request for comment to Thor Equities was not immediately returned.