Lakeside Lounge is closing at the end of this month; co-owners James Marshall and Eric Ambel have sold the bar/venue. The Lakeside was my very favorite bar in New York, and I made certain to drop in every time I visited. I will miss the place very much. What was great about the bar was the way it effortlessly transcended its kitchy origins: Marshall and Ambel wanted to import a Midwestern cottage-on-the-lake vibe into grimy Alphabet City, and did so with requisite touches, aqua-blue and sunny-yellow peeling paint job, lake decor, corny landscape paintings, an old-school photo booth. But the place always felt lived-in, not ironic. This was in part due to the natural light streaming in through the large front windows, the utterly guile-free bartenders, the unassuming concrete floor and walls, and the fabulous jukebox stocked with obscure R&R and R&B singles from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. When I wrote Sweat I lived in New York for a month-at-a-time for several years, and always celebrated a good day's work at the Lakeside Happy Hour, which generously lasted until 8 pm. I remember fondly sitting with my first can of cold beer and a shot of bourbon as the Strangeloves' "Cara-Lin" kicked in—soon Dave Dudley's "Six Days On The Road" and Johnny Thunder's "I'm Alive" were stirring the place, and I was happy in the late-afternoon sunlight, people-watching along Avenue B. Marshall and Ambel were generous with the bands that played in the side room—there was always live music—and though the bar created cliques and endured the kind of drama endemic to running a drinking/live music establishment in a major city, the overall vibe of the joint was friendly and welcoming, the jukebox scoring a musical history as folks drank and laughed while darkness set. Lakeside Lounge was a wonderful bar. I'll miss it. I always wanted to do a reading there, and Marshall was amenable, but I could never swing it. Whenever I daydream about listening to rock and roll in a bar, I place myself at Lakeside; soon that will remain only a daydream. We'll be in town next month; I only wish I could be there for the last last call.
Marshall and Ambel remember their bar for The New York Times.