By Sasha Pezenik

Candle Bar, the gay bar at 309 Amsterdam Avenue between 74th and 75th streets, closed on Monday night and dozens of people came out for the sendoff. It was the oldest gay bar in the city.


The couple in front are the (former) owners, Michelle Ader and William Greene.

Some others include: second row in blue checked shirt, leaning over: Ray. Next over: Georgi Merriman. Center behind Michelle and William: Amonte Demarko. Third from right, top row: Thomas.


“Everyone knows everyone here. It was like Cheers. It’s supposed to be a ‘Gay Bar’, but it was so much more than that – it was a neighborhood bar. The history of New York lives in places like these”.


“People aren’t as friendly as they used to be.”


Owner of Candle Bar Michelle Ader and her husband William Greene. Michelle was bequeathed the apartment by her brother 22 years ago, after his death.

“We just can’t do it anymore… We’ve lost money on this place for years. There are a lot of people sad to see this ending, but they’ve never even been in for a drink. This has always been a living room for the gay community, and we’ve tried really hard to give them great memories.”


Bartender Amonte Demarko has worked at Candle Bar for almost 13 years: “This is the only place I’ve worked; I’m just trying to hold back tears!”


“Michelle didn’t even tell anyone, including the staff, until a couple weeks ago,” says Georgi Merriman. “Know what they’re getting as severance? Nothing. Not a penny. I think Michelle should make some sort of statement,” (he laughs) “so she doesn’t face an onslaught. People are really angry.”


“I’ve been coming here for 40 years,” says Ray. “I started a gay billiards league to raise money for AIDS. Been going ever since.”


“If someone gave me a trip around the world – I’d still end up here.”

“This has been my social network. It’s the end of an era.”

“These people will all disperse now. They will all drift away. But these stories, these stories that are here, will still be here. It was here. It all happened here.”

HISTORY, NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Nelson says:

      If Georgi is disappointed that there’s no severance for the staff (is that customary when a business folds?), perhaps he should consider the fact that owners managed to keep the bar operating for years at a financial loss?

      • chris says:

        +1. Exactly.

      • Georgi says:

        Wow wht a case of having been Misquoted with ur photo 2 boot! I don’t recall having said these comments 2anyone from th press. But I did hear it being spoken about by gossips with there opinions. Not My affair.

    2. ron shapley says:

      Any of you guys remember Bob Acton….Skinny red head bartender in the early 80’s ?? Please email me if you do……….Thanks

    3. Jerry says:

      ImMet one of my best friends here 38 years ago when the Candle Bar was one of the most popular gay bars on the Upper West Side. There were a lot of gay bars here then, but the Candle was very vibrant and a real anchor. My friendship with my buddy is still going strong and I’ve often stopped by with him and other friends for a brew after a movie through the years. So many of my friends from that past are gone now and I’m sorry to have to say good bye to the Candle as well. However, I appreciate that it was probably kept open through the years by the owner’s love for a brother and his wishes. For that, I honor the owners. Rest in peace Candle Bar and all those who sailed therein.

    4. Chuck says:

      Anyone remember Trixie, the bartender during the mid 50s when it was known as the Candelight Bar?

      It was the very first bar that I started going to after coming out.

    5. Georgi M says:

      Wow wht a case of having been Misquoted with ur photo 2 boot! Not at all wht I recall having said 2anyone from th press. But I did hear it being spoken about by gossips with there opinions

    6. Kenneth says:

      So sad to see Candle Bar close! Does anyone know where the bartender Daniel works now??? He was always so kind to me and my friends who visited nyc.