MURRAY HILL — As the name implies, sports bars are generally temples to athletes and their teams, a gathering place for fans to exalt their favorite players.
But the owners of Murray Bar, a newly opened sports bar in Murray Hill, don’t believe in blind devotion.
Instead of jerseys and framed “Sports Illustrated” covers, a collection of athletes’ criminal mug shots greets guests as they enter the East 34th Street spot, between Park and Madison avenues.
The mug shots, enlarged to poster size and printed in red and black, depict former Giants linebacker Lawrence “LT” Taylor, New York Knick Carmelo Anthony, notorious MLB pitcher Roger Clemens and former outfielder Darryl Strawberry.
All have arrest records for offenses ranging from driving while under the influence and possession of crack cocaine to perjury and soliciting a prostitute.
Melanie Lemieux, one of the bar’s owners, said the concept was intended to offer something a little different for patrons, who are also treated to Gatorade-infused cocktails named after sports legends.
As for the players themselves, Lemieux said she isn’t concerned about how they might react to the mug shot artwork.
“They know these photos are out there,” said Lemieux, who also co-owns the Cash Bar, a speakeasy-style establishment located upstairs from Murray Bar. Its entrance is hidden behind an out-of-order ATM.
Lemieux said that when she and her business partner took over the space on East 34th Street, they opted to keep Murray Bar’s name but completely transformed the space. They quietly opened their doors just before the end of 2012.
In addition to the mug shots, the owners have installed multiple flat-screen televisions and leather-tufted furniture. A press release brags about the Gatorade cocktails, praising the mixing agent for its “great flavors, low sugar and electrolytes.”
Although the menu is not yet finalized, Murray Bar will serve food the owners proclaim will be “classic pub fare times 1,000.”
And as for the clientele they aim to attract, their goal is to maintain a “99 percent douchebag-free environment.”