The idea of a historically significant venue changing owners and undergoing a nip/tuck is, at best, immensely frightening. One never knows whether the new owners will have the respect for patina that is necessary for such a renovation to go well. In some cases, our fears are allayed on the far end of the process. The face lift at PJ's, for example, though riddled by delays of almost a full year, was a great testament to the owner's keen sense of PJ's past. At Landmark Tavern early signs point to good. This success, however, is not always the case.
The Tribeca institution, Puffy's Tavern went under the knife earlier this year, after Frank DeMarco, an owner since 1979, sold to Oscar Plotkin, a Tribeca resident since roughly 2005. (Plotkin, as the story goes, builds and leases big box retail space all over the country. Two words: bru tal.) Initial reports were that Plotkin revered the place he'd just bought and didn't intend to do much more than make it a little cleaner. "This is the ground floor of my house," he said, "I prefer not to have things growing here." Right on, Plotkers.
Eater returned to Puffy's in early June -- a full month after the bar reopened, to the owner's credit, on time -- to find the space completely stripped of character. The moose head over the bar appears to have been replaced by stereo speakers; the jukebox is no where to be found; the back left corner, once a tribute to Tribeca grit, scarred and tattooed by years of drunken dart players, was overwhelmingly sterile.
On the upside, the place did in fact reopen with an unchanged layout, cleaned floors, a newly polished bar, and those same tin ceilings, among other things. It's still a classy bar amid nightlife fare that's become increasingly high-impact. But in a restoration gone terribly wrong, it's not the bar you're thinking of.