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2022 Village Awardee: Zinc Bar, 82 West 3rd Street

Zinc Bar: A Historic Greenwich Village Venue

Village Preservation is very proud to honor Zinc Bar as a Village Awardee in 2022. Join us in recognizing Zinc Bar and these other worthy awardees at Village Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Village Awards on Tuesday, June 14th. Registration is free and open to all!

Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Ragtime Band at Zinc Bar.
Mr. Waldo is an author, composer, producer, band leader and theatrical music director. In a professional career that has spanned over fifty years, Terry has produced and arranged over sixty albums, including his newest on Turtle Bay Records: I Double Dare You which features Tatiana Eva-Marie and Waldo’s Gotham City Band. He is currently producing a podcast, This Is #Ragtime and a new documentary, This Is Ragtime: The Birth of American Music.
Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Ragtime Band at Zinc Bar.
Mr. Waldo is an author, composer, producer, band leader and theatrical music director, with a professional career that has spanned over fifty years. He is currently producing a podcast, “This Is #Ragtime,” and a new documentary, This Is Ragtime: The Birth of American Music.

If you’re lucky, you may even get a taste of the live music that fills Zinc Bar at the June 14th Awards ceremony. As noted by our Awards Committee, which visited Zinc Bar during the nomination process: “Zinc provides the perfect continuity to this amazing history as respectful guardians of the legacies (of Greenwich Village) and building upon them as a dynamic incubator within the Village arts scene.”

History and Live Music in One Place

Zinc Bar is located on Third Street, a historical location that was highlighted in Village Preservation’s blog post “Looking Up: West 3rd St. Village Preservation fought hard and won the effort to protect this historic part of Greenwich Village with the designation of the South Village Historic District.

Located in the heart of this area, Zinc Bar and its owners Alex Kossi and Karen Hallam, are making efforts to preserve the historic nature of Zinc Bar while filling the neighborhood with jazz, latin, and world music. 

John Sloan’s ‘Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street,’ 1928.

The space was the iconic Cinderella Club in the early 20th century. It then became two well-known gay and lesbian clubs, Tenth of Always and Bonnie and Clyde, in the 1960’s and 70’s (Bonnie and Clyde served as a political center for second wave feminists and African-American lesbian activists).

Photo of Bonnie & Clydes from NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Comedy Clubs also occupied Zinc Bar’s space, including Paper Moon and The Boston Comedy Club. Anyone who listens to comedy podcasts might recognize these names as many of the industry’s biggest names appeared on the stage at The Boston Comedy Club, including Adam Sandler for his first stage appearance. 

This history of the space is reflected in the musicians that perform there, including Jack Fine, who played there when the space was the Cinderella Club. Sometimes Jack will sit in on a classic jazz session on the same stage where he appeared decades earlier. Stop by the club and you might be able to chat with owner Alex about the storied history of the space, including how Mae West was known for seeking talent there to join her revues when it was Club Cinderella, and discovered a legendary vaudeville performer, Ray Bourbon, in the space. 

Alex recounted that a gentleman stopped by the club one night and shared that he actually saw Ray Bourbon on stage when he was a college student during the 1950s. Proudly, Alex also noted how special it is that people who have such cherished memories of this hallowed space can still return decades later to make new memories as well as reminisce, rather than finding that developers had erased the place. 

The respect for the space and its history are reflected in the care that Alex and Karen took in restoring aspects of the club. Even the name is a nod to history; ‘Zinc Bar’ refers to “Le Zinc,” a legendary French gathering space with a zinc-topped bar. Zinc Bar strives to maintain a space where the local community and varied musicians can mingle, like in a 1930s club. 

We love this sketch by @brian_floca Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Band at @zincbar on Wednesday night. Apologies to @terrywaldo1 himself, missing from this drawing; the piano didn’t fit on the page. Apologies also the guy in the audience for the sketchy, leering expression I accidentally gave him. Sketched on site, painted at studio.

#sketch #watercolor #ragtime #zincbarnyc
Sketch by @brian_floca of Terry Waldo’s Gotham City Band at Zinc Bar on Wednesday, May 25th. Sketched on site, painted at studio.

Community Engagement During the Pandemic

Zinc Bar is one of the many small businesses that kept the lifeblood of our communities flowing during a very difficult time. Its owners were constantly monitoring the ebbs and flows of COVID-19 protocol, providing services and music throughout the past few years. During a time that has been both dynamic and stressful for New Yorkers, Zinc Bar has continued to operate and serve the community. Owner Karen Hallam blogged about the experience, sharing insight into the trials and tribulations as well as the rewards of being a small business owner during a pandemic in Greenwich Village. 

Zinc Bar's outdoor set up. Photo from Karen's Blog Post from Monday, December 14, 2022
Zinc Bar’s outdoor set up. Photo from Karen’s Blog Post from Monday, December 14, 2022

The flexibility and vision necessary to sustain a performance venue through this time is demonstrated by Karen and Alex’s creation of a coffee bar in the space. They filled a need for essential workers unable find coffee in the neighborhood as coffee bars and delis remained closed. The club constructed a 6-foot counter and a barrier between the staff and customers to keep everyone safe. And thus West 3rd ceased to be a “coffee desert” for those who came here to work or for other reasons (Karen notes her and Alex’s work in jazz has helped them and the rest of the Zinc Bar crew develop strong improvisation skills, which has benefited the business and the community at large). 

Zinc Bar also acquired permits to set up an elaborately designed and ventilated outdoor space and play live music outside. This space became a community gathering space to lift spirits with live music performances, film screenings, and even a live stream of the 2020 Presidential election results. They programmed unique events like “Black Orpheus” which was screened in honor of the Brazilian musicians who are an important part of the Zinc Bar community.  The outdoor space was open each day from 8am to dusk.

Support Live Music at Zinc Bar

Zinc Bar has now resumed live performances seven days a week, with an exciting Summer Season to check out! Alex, Karen, and their family (including their watchful dog Stella) are a key part of the experience of visiting.

Whether you are in the mood to enjoy the music of a guitar legend, get in on some piano bar vibes, or check out some up and coming musicians, Zinc Bar is a hub of exciting live performance for everyone. 

During the week the music is more classic jazz, while on weekends you can check out Brazilian Jazz. But there’s also the “wild-card” set on Thursdays, and some Latin Jazz, cabaret, and stand-up comedy mixed in (another nod to the history of the space and neighborhood.) There is a two-drink minimum on weekends with a low cover ($8 to $10 typically), and no cover and a one-drink minimum during the week. 

So the next time you are in the mood to see some live music, head over to West 3rd street, and enjoy this intimate space that has been lovingly preserved by neighborhood heroes. You’ll not only support a wonderful local small business, but a heritage of creativity and performance which is deeply embedded in this part of the Village.

Don’t miss out when Zinc Bar accepts its award on June 14th. RSVP HERE to attend in person and HERE to participate virtually via livestream. Learn more about our annual meeting and awards, including past awardees and videos of past ceremonies, here.

Announcing Zinc Bar as a 2022 Village Award Winner

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