Subway Inn Owners Vow to Fight Developer's Plans to Kick Them Out
UPPER EAST SIDE — Veteran dive bar Subway Inn is raising money in a last-ditch attempt to stay open.
The neon-lit bar, which has offered cheap beer and down-to-earth service across the street from Bloomingdale's at 143 E. 60th St. for nearly 80 years, is facing eviction and is trying to raise $10,000 to pay lawyers and spread the word about their situation, the son of the bar owner said.
"If they close the bar, they close the whole family," Steven Salinas said. "We're fighting for justice."
The Salinas family launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign and a petition this week, after they say their landlord refused to renew their lease and told them they had to move out by Aug. 20. The bar had been on a month-to-month lease for several years, according to the owners.
“Your donation is crucial and will mean the difference between the doors remaining open or the wrecking ball destroying our beloved DIVE Bar,” the Salinas family wrote on the Indiegogo page, which had raised more than $250 as of Friday afternoon.
The World-Wide Group, which owns the building, plans to build “luxury condos" in place of the bar, according Subway Inn's video about their situation.
No construction permits have been filed, records show. A spokeswoman for the World-Wide Group declined to comment.
Salinas said he would provide more details about his family's efforts to save the bar at a press conference next week.
"This situation is very unfortunate," said Frank Figueroa, 55, a construction manager who has been coming to Subway Inn for the past five years. "It's a very inexpensive, comfortable place with all kinds of people.... It's not easy to find a place like this in the city."
The owners have put several large "Save Subway Inn" banners inside the bar as well as on the storefront, and they are also addressing their online petition to Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local officials, in the hopes that someone can stop the World-Wide Group's development from moving forward.
"The petition is to call their attention," Salinas said. "Every time someone signs the it, it sends an email to the elected officials."
As of Friday morning, more than 150 people had signed the online petition, leaving comments such as, "We need our history, even when it smells like beer!”
Salinas also printed a paper version of the petition to keep at the bar, and more than 150 patrons had signed it in less than 24 hours, Salinas said.
"What's happening is sad," said Kevin Henry, 42, a Harlem resident who works near Subway Inn and has been a regular for four years. "They're being priced out and that's happening all over the city."
Contributors supporting Subway Inn's fight against "investors gobbling up small family businesses to make a quick buck" will receive “Save Subway Inn” buttons and T-shirts, according to the fundraising site.