After 31 years of serving up dollar oysters, fried pickles and cold beer, quirky Flatiron Southern restaurant Live Bait shuttered suddenly last Tuesday, and an outpost of Union Square taqueria Flats Fix opened in its place the very next day. Owners didn’t inform staff of the quick change, multiple employees say.
Long-time staffers at Live Bait arrived for their usual shifts last week only to find their schedules and job descriptions had been rewritten to meet the needs of the new “taco y tequila bar.” One tells Eater his regular hours had been cut down to one-sixth of what they had been, forcing him to seek additional work elsewhere. Others have yet to learn the new menu items, which includes tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and the like, with one bartender unable to make a Paloma, on the new cocktail list.
Fishing-themed décor still lines the walls and bartenders still wear their Live Bait shirts and hats, but a sign outside clearly advertises the restaurant as Flats Fix. The owners have not yet returned Eater’s request for comment.
From its first day in 1987, Live Bait lured patrons with its neon sign, a beacon for happy hour regulars and Flatiron tourists looking for respite. On Monday, shell-shocked diners nibbled on over-seasoned tortilla chips and lackluster burrito bowls and asked their servers what had happened. “R.I.P. Live Bait,” one said.