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Subway Inn - The Salinas Family's Classic Dive Bar, Open since 1932, Moves Two Blocks East to Second Avenue and E. 60th Street


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Laundry is one of my favorite things to do. I don't really like washing clothes, though I don't mind. And a load is pretty expensive in Manhattan - my part of the island, anyway.

But my laundromat happens to be next door to the reincarnation of the Subway Inn.  Previously, the bar was right at an entrance for the 59th Street subway station on the Lexington Avenue line (the 4, 5, 6), hence the name. It was a regular date spot for Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. 

The years since were perhaps unkind to Subway Inn. By the time it closed, it was a straight-up dive.  And not necessarily in a good way.  Just a bar with a storied history that lived off of cheap drinks and the clientele that comes with it.  Beloved by those that knew it, for sure. But far removed from its heyday. 

And then came the end.  Not because of money, but instead, like so much of "old New York," at the hands of a developer.  The whole block is scheduled for redevelopment, into something taller, grander, and in any event, not an ancient, dingy bar.

And so it moved, much too far from the subway for the name to be even remotely appropriate.  It's actually directly across the street from the Roosevelt Island tram, though I'm guessing "Tram Inn" was never seriously considered.  It may again be next to the subway, but that would require the city to actually build the Second Avenue "T" line, which has been in the works for almost 100 years.  So don't hold your breath.

Anyway, the new bar is kind of like the old, minus the grime.  But without that "patina," it lacked most of the personality of the original.  And the new crowd is a lot different.  It's kind of a "Star Wars bar" - everyone seems like a different kind of alien, and it isn't clear that most even speak the same language. 

But the owners did a lot right when they built the place.  The beer selection is unremarkable, but good and varied enough to please just about anyone (my particular poison is Brooklyn Lager).  And the menu is just Sysco bar food, but it's prepared well enough that you won't mind.  I mostly go for the wings, which are sometimes undersized and always a bit spicier than you order them. 

And now that the Subway Inn has been in its current location for a year, a funny thing has happened. This nondescript bar with a disparate crowd has developed a community, of which I'm indirectly a part (the occasional "laundry guy," I suspect).  And the bartenders - younger, but holdovers from the old location - are great.  Most importantly, the place knows what it is, and does that well.

Which brings me back to laundry.  There's nothing better than throwing in a few loads and heading next door for a couple of pints.  Returning to put everything in the dryer, then back for a few more beers and some wings.  And all the while being surrounded by people of every race, creed, and age, not just coexisting, but enjoying each others company.  Occasionally, you even make some friends. 

I love laundry day.

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1 hour ago, RWBooneJr said:

The years since were perhaps unkind to Subway Inn. By the time it closed, it was a straight-up dive. And not necessarily in a good way.  Just a bar with a storied history that lived off of cheap drinks and the clientele that comes with it.  Beloved by those that knew it, for sure. But far removed from its heyday. 

I knew it and loved it.  Makes me sad to think it isn't there anymore.  This was a great write-up that made me homesick for a particular place and time in my life.

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