Bridge Cafe, New York's oldest bar, may finally actually be two months away from opening. At least that's what owner Adam Weprin is hoping for. For years now, he has been saying that the historic bar and restaurant — which has been closed since Sandy due to damages — will be opening in two months, but he says this may be the last time he'll have to say it. The cafe is "90 percent there," only waiting on getting a phone line set up and a certificate from the fire department for the kitchen. "Eventually, I'll be right," he says of a two month timeline. "I'm tired of this joke, [but] that's kind of where we are. We don't know what else could be lurking around the corner to torture us."
The more than 220-year-old building at 279 Water St. required extensive repairs, including replacing wood that had been flooded from the storm. Weprin's family has owned it since the 1970s, when former mayor Ed Koch was a regular. Getting the historic building back on line has been "a nightmare," Weprin says. Last year, he almost bailed on the project entirely, going as far as talking to broker friends about what the value of the property might be. "I had a family meeting with my mother," he says. "She said, 'Well, if you think we should sell, you're the one who's running it. Maybe we should sell.'" The family often receives offers to buy the building, he adds.
But shortly after that, Weprin had minor knee surgery and started to think about what he wanted to do. He realized that he missed the restaurant business too much. He's "married to this building," and he missed the customers, who have been emailing regularly check in on when it will reopen. "There's a high you get from a really busy, great night," he says. "It's a complete and utter high. And I absolutely miss that." Plus, he says, he's not sure where else he would work.
Weprin plans to first have a soft opening and then eventually host a big party for the neighborhood. And his family has no plans to abort the project again, at least not until after things get going. "If we choose to sell, it's after we beat Sandy," he says, "after we're open and running, and I'm tired of it."