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Last Call for Odessa Cafe and Bar After 48 Years

By Serena Solomon | August 30, 2013 10:16am
 Odessa Cafe and Bar is closing in the East Village.
Odessa Cafe and Bar
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EAST VILLAGE — After almost 50 years of serving East Village drinkers, the cafe and bar half of the Ukrainian eatery Odessa will close its doors Saturday night.

Odessa Cafe and Bar, which opened in 1965 and later expanded with a restaurant next door, is closing after being hit with a 50 percent rent increase, according to an owner. The cafe and bar at 117 Avenue A — which is more bar than cafe and is known for its kitschy decor — has long been a favorite drinking spot for neighborhood residents both young and old.

"We are not happy, after so many years of serving customers," said Odessa co-owner Mike Skulikidis, who is from Greece and bought the bar from a Ukranian friend in 1980. It had opened 15 years earlier in the same location.

Odessa Cafe and Bar's closing night, which was first reported by the blog EV Grieve, will be business as usual, without much fanfare, according to Skulikidis.

"Customers will just come and enjoy themselves," he said.

The bar's building was sold in July 2012 to H & O Management Corporation and 117 Avenue A LLC for just over $3 million, according to city records.  The new owners soon requested a 50 percent increase on Odessa Cafe and Bar's $10,000 monthly rent, according to Skulikidis.

"It doesn't make sense to have two restaurants next to each other with $15,000 on my head," he said.

H & O Management Corporation and 117 Avenue A LLC could not immediately be reached for comment.

When Skulikidis took over the Odessa bar 33 years ago, he Americanized the menu while keeping some of the Ukrainian specialties such as pierogi and stuffed cabbage.

Skulikidis then expanded Odessa to the restaurant space next door at 119 Avenue in 1994, a building that he now owns.

Looking ahead, Skulikidis plans to continue working at Odessa seven days a week and said he has no interest in closing it or making major changes — but eventually he will have to move on.

"Everything is for sale at the right price anytime," he said.