September 21, 2021 Restaurant/Bar News
The former Maxwell’s has reopened as Tavern On Reade — and this is not to be confused with Reade Street Pub, which closed in May but a replacement is on this month’s agenda for a new liquor license.
Michael Zieleniewski, who owns Barrow Street Alehouse and MacDougal Street Alehouse, took the lease on the space in March and after spending a lot more cash than planned (by $100k), opened last week. There’s more décor to come — a custom mirror for the long wall, photos of old Tribeca — but the bar, the same one that has been there since Spaghetti Western days, is still in place and ready to go. (That’s Zieleniewski, second from left, along with bartender Matty O’Boyle, partner Liam Keane and bartender MJ Keane.)
The renovation was a bit of a heartbreak.
“Everything I touched turned to dust,” said Zieleniewski, who in most circles goes by Z. He stepped through the floor behind the bar on day two. “Falling through the floors was one thing, but the whole kitchen exhaust had to be redone at a cost of $75,000 — it was a death trap.”
The building was built in 1896 as a five-story boot-and-shoe factory, but after a fire, it was reduced to one story. In the 1930s it was opened as a bar by a John Maxwell, hence the name Maxwell’s from its last incarnation.
Zieleniewski was at NYU College of Dentistry in the mid ’90s when his brother died suddenly and the school “wasn’t that understanding,” as he put it. He dropped out and started bartending at McSwiggan’s on the LES, taking the owner’s shift when he opened a new bar. He then moved to Barrow Street Ale House, becoming a partner in 2005. Five years ago he bought the other partner out and did the same at his other bars over those two decades. “We’ve been in this business a long time.”
He was outbid at Reade Street Pub, so he grabbed this spot — an opportunity, he says, that does not come around often. He got the place as-is with 15-year lease at about 60 percent less than the previous tenant.
Some of the staff has been with him for years, and since a lot of the folks he knows after 20+ years in the business were out of work, he was also able to poach some solid, experienced people. He’s got a chef from O’Keefe’s in Brooklyn Heights and his minority partner was the best man at his wedding and from a family that has owned bars for a couple generations.
“If I had to buy the existing business pre-covid it would have cost me but this way I just saw it as an investment in my family’s future,” he said. (He moved from Sheridan Square to Hoboken just recently, after he had his first child.) “There’s a golden opportunity now, where landlords are looking for good tenants like me and the price is right.”
Now, a note about the sidewalk shed that has hovered over that space for years. He’s been in conversations with the owners of the building next door, who, he said, are trying to finish repairs to the balconies. They have in the meantime caught up on Local Law 11, but they still have more to do. He’s hoping it will be resolved soon, but at 15 Barrow he was forced to sue his next-door neighbor, who had a sidewalk shed up for two and a half years. Food for thought…
Tavern on Reade
59 Reade | Broadway and Church
Hours: seven days, 11a to 2a
Recent New Kids:
Torch & Crown Brewing Company
1 White Street
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