Old School is New School - Sort of
New York City’s iconic social gathering eatery and watering hole returns to its after dark glory days with a reboot fitting for 21st Century Upper East Side Manhattanites. And they’re not the only ones.
Up and down the Upper East Side from 1st Avenue to 3rd Avenue, there has been a slate of restaurants and venues increasingly adding live entertainment to their mix — catering to a residential demographic that secretly longs for spots close to home or the ’70s and ’80s of yesteryear — where they can extend their nightlife and still make it to work in the morning.
Moreover, residents from the UES heyday of the late ’70s and ’80s still enjoy night time fun; listening to the music and entertainment of those eras and old New York. The newest establishment to join this growing group is The Beach Cafe on 2nd Avenue and 70th Street.
The Beach is BackFor nearly half a century The Beach Café (The Beach), nestled on Manhattan’s UES, has been serving up American classic fare, cocktails and conversation to a loyal mix of neighborhood patrons and New York celebrity. Thanks to loyal patrons, The Beach Café survived the last several years of construction around the restaurant for the new 2nd Avenue Subway line, while other establishments weren’t so lucky. Celebs still pop in to the notorious Beach. Recently, music icon Billy Joel stopped in during the day. Now, The Beach is turning its prime locale venue into a Cabaret space of performance and live music every Thursday thru Saturday night in August and September. If this past inaugural sold-out weekend is any indication – the reincarnated, re-invigorated Beach Café After Dark has risen again.
Entertainer extraordinaire Mark Nadler headlined the inaugural weekend shows. He has slated New York City’s top Cabaret performers to fill out the August/September schedule with 9:15PM shows; Nadler will perform the After Dark Late Night Beach Party Show at 11:15PM. On the roster are stars ranging from Broadway, Off-Broadway, Cabaret and Music. For full schedule click here.
Brothers Tom and Bill White opened the restaurant in 1968 with a maritime theme to a completely different era on the Upper East Side. Liza Minnelli and Arthur Miller were regulars back then. The late ’70s through the ’80s brought the big name studio musicians, who would drop by after their sessions or gigs into the wee hours of the morning.
The maritime theme still exists today with paintings of beach scenes and parasols hanging from the exposed brick dining room. Clippings from the “New York Post’s” Cindy Adams and Page Six Liz Smith columns also adorn the walls. Blue-and-white checkered tablecloths are also a mainstay.
Restaurateur and Beach Café current owner (10 years) David Goodside has been working for the Beach for 32 years. We sat down with David to get the 411 on his plans for The Beach After Dark and a lesson on The Beach in its celebrity/musician-driven era. Here’s what he had to say.
SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS: What can you tell our readers about The Beach – then and now?
David: It happened over night, but we’ve had so many great musical moments here. Not necessarily with the instruments; just sitting around with the musicians, late night, with no one in here. Just them talking and drinking about the antics that would go on in the studio. This was the home base for a lot of studio musicians.
SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS: That was in the late ‘70s, ’80s to early ’90s, right?
David: Yes, because the studio musicians kind of went away in the 2000s, as did the studios. Back when records were done with the same 12 guys doing all the records, those studio musicians –- in the ’70s and ’80s — they all lived on the Upper East Side. And, the ones that didn’t live around here, that lived outside of here — they didn’t want to go back to New Rochelle or over the bridge in Jersey –- so they hung out with their friends that lived on the UES. They’d end up over here, so we had a lot of music here.
SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS: Can you elaborate?
David: It was more the conversations; the relationships, the stories, the dynamics between the players. That’s what was so special.
SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS: Was that after hours?
David: A lot of it was after hours. We used to stay up late, but a lot of people used to stay up late. These musicians would come in and say ‘hey, I’m so and so, I just played with Stevie Wonder’. The guys liked a lot of wine, not heavy drinking. To be a studio musician, you couldn’t drink hard liquor or do a lot of drugs. The reason they were so sought after is that they could get it in the first three takes and go on to the next session.
SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS: That was then. It’s no secret that restaurants all over New York are struggling for a variety of reasons. Upper East Side included. What can you tell us about now? Specifically, about resurrecting The Beach After Dark?
David: We are very fortunate to have loyal patrons that go back decades. UES residents are longing for places in their ‘hood’ they can go after long work hours…and hop home in minutes as opposed to in a half hour or longer. The 2nd Avenue Subway only enhances making that a reality for these residents.
The Beach Café is not alone in its quest to re-spark the UES to its entertaining after dark glory days. A spate of UES establishments are offering various genres of live music and entertainment options varying days of the week. Full story at SOCIALLY SPARKED NEWS NEW YORKp>
Perhaps the Upper East Side vibe from the past is back with a 2017 spin. You be the judge and pop in. — Abbe is #SOCIALLYSPARKED™ Tweet @sosparkednews & @asparks01