MURRAY HILL — A new bar opened in Murray Hill Thursday night, a dark, intimate, hidden space where everything from the front door to the payment policy revolves around cold hard cash.
The secret entrance at the aptly named Cash Bar on East 34th Street between Park and Madison avenues is tucked behind an old ATM machine. Coins of varying currencies have been glued to the tabletops. And the centerpiece of the second-floor bar is a glass case purportedly containing $1 million cash.
Well, not really. A closer look reveals that the stacks of Benjamins are actually $100 bills wrapped around blank sheets of paper. But Melanie Lemieux, one of the co-owners of the space, said the heap of bills is equivalent to what $1 million in hundred dollar bills would look like, if it were real.
“It’s for the shock value,” said Lemieux, 25, who lives in Long Island City. “I don’t think anyone would be crazy enough to put [$1 million in cash] in a bar.”
Lemieux, who owns the new space with Kyle Radzyminski, said the concept for the bar was “a drunk idea” that they brought to life in about a month.
The walls of the Cash Bar are papered in dollar bills. The bathrooms are decked out in gold, from the toilet seats to the walls, and framed portraits of Abraham Lincoln (face of the $5), George Washington (who appears on the dollar) and Benjamin Franklin (whose image is on the $100) are dotted throughout the space.
Lemieux, who is also a singer and has performed with the USO, said the cocktail menu was also meant to pay homage to money, with several drinks that were so-called “cocktails of choice for past presidents.”
The Abraham Lincoln, for example, consists of Crown Royal, apple Schnapps and cranberry juice.
Other cocktails on the menu are named after various currencies from around the world.
As might be expected, the bar owners prefer cash over credit, but beginning next week, they will be accepting credit cards, with a $100 minimum purchase amount.
“We’ll be fancy and have a $100 minimum because I just like to be fancy,” said Lemieux, whose business card is a fake, folded $100 bill.
Given the secret entrance, the spot can be hard to find. There is an address, although it’s less of a directional guide than it is an homage to the Harry Potter series: 58 3/4 E. 34th St.
But those interested in stopping by can find it by heading for Murray Bar on 34th Street between Park and Madison. Off to the side, there is a small foyer with an ATM inside that bears a sign reading “out of order.”
To the left of that ATM is a door handle that leads up the stairs and into The Cash Bar.