Relaunched Mars Bar to Serve Quinoa and Fresh Juice

By Lisha Arino on May 13, 2014 10:29am 

 Owner Hank Penza (at left) in front of Mars Bar in June 2011. Penza, along with three new partners, announced plans for a new version of the bar.
Owner Hank Penza (at left) in front of Mars Bar in June 2011. Penza, along with three new partners, announced plans for a new version of the bar.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Hedlund

EAST VILLAGE — Quinoa is coming to Mars Bar.

The formerly gritty dive at First Street and Second Avenue, which closed nearly three years ago, will reinvent itself as a juice bar, lounge and restaurant, the owners revealed Monday.

The new venue will be "a variation of Mars Bar" but will keep the same name, Mars Bar attorney Frank Palillo told Community Board 3's SLA and DCA Licensing Committee at a meeting Monday.

The new Mars Bar will be owned by Hank Penza — who owned the original bar for 26 years, until it was shut down in 2011 to make way for Jupiter 21, a 12-story luxury apartment building — along with three new partners, Alain Palinsky, Chris Reda and Robert Montwaid.

The rebooted two-level bar at 21 E. First St. will have a juice bar on the ground level and a lounge in the basement, with a menu featuring quinoa bowls, salads, sandwiches, meats and cheeses, the owners said.

The 80-seat space will be open from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to the owners' liquor license application and questionnaire.

The owners also want to add a small retail area on the ground floor and possibly a bathhouse later on, they said.

As 81-year-old Penza described the plans at CB3's meeting, committee chairwoman Alexandra Militano wanted to check whether he would actually be involved in the venue, given how different it will be from the original bar.

“Are you going to be there at all?” Militano asked Penza.

“Of course,” he replied.

“You going to run the juicer?” she joked.

The CB3 committee voted to support Mars Bar's liquor license application, but the State Liquor Authority will make the final decision.

“I just hope the business takes off,” said Herman F. Hewitt, a CB3 member who lives nearby and was surprised to hear of the bar's new direction.

Mars Bar's owners did not say when the new venue would open.

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