WEST VILLAGE — The landmark gay bar and restaurant Julius' bought snacks and balloons for a New Year's Eve bash planned for Saturday night — but the Health Department called the party off Friday after finding vermin at the historic watering hole.
The bar at 159 W. 10th St., which bills itself as the oldest gay bar in the city, was closed after inspectors found roaches and evidence of mice there, according to Department of Health records.
Julius', which serves hamburgers and sandwiches, racked up 52 violation points for infractions including keeping cold foods at insufficiently low temperatures, improperly sanitizing surfaces that come in contact with food and improperly using pesticides, records show.
Manager David Montalvo said Tuesday that the bar, where drinks were first slung in 1864, will be better maintained in the future.
"We'll keep this place as clean as possible and make sure that everything is cleaned properly," he said.
Owner Helen Buford said Wednesday morning that she expected Julius' to be re-inspected Wednesday and able to reopen after the follow-up visit.
"We have addressed everything [the inspectors] have asked us to do and then some," she said.
Inspectors found fewer problems at Julius' during inspections earlier in 2011. In March, inspectors hit the bar with 21 violation points for evidence of mice and insufficiently warding off vermin. In June, Julius' received 15 points for evidence of mice and improper sanitation of surfaces that come in contact with food.
Yelp users toasted the bar for happy hour drinks so cheap they are "practically free," but called the kitchen "dirty" and "greasy."
Under the grading system the city introduced in July 2010, the Health Department immediately closes restaurants and bars with "conditions that may be hazardous to public health," according to its website. An establishment that receives 28 or more violation points gets a "C" grade.
Julius' began to attract a gay clientele in the 1950s, and in 1966 sparked a city Human Rights Commission investigation of discrimination against homosexuals in bars, according to the establishment's website.