Cleopatra’s Needle, Jazz Club and Restaurant, Closes After 30 Years ‘With a Heavy Heart’

Cleopatra’s Needle, a jazz club and restaurant on Broadway between 92nd and 93rd Streets, closed on Monday after 30 years. The spot was one of the few remaining restaurants that featured live music every night, and it was a mainstay for musicians and music-lovers. A note on the door says “With a Heavy Heart, We Say Goodbye.”

“It was the accumulation of rent, city business assault and a change in the neighborhood” that caused the restaurant to close, said owner Maher Hussein in an interview. “You name it, we faced it. It became unbearable, especially the rent.”

Hussein said business taxes, higher minimum wages and other bureaucratic difficulties also made it hard to stay in business. He said he’s gotten many calls asking him to consider opening a new location, which is he is considering.

“It is a loss for the Upper West Side, and I’m not just saying that because we own it,” he said.

Customers were devastated. “I’m truly heartbroken,” wrote Paul, who sent in the photo above. “I didn’t know the place was even at risk of closing.”

This year has been a tough one for closings on the Upper West Side — from Boat Basin Cafe, to Gabriela’s, to JG Melon, to Great Burrito.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 112 comments | permalink
    1. DeBlasioGoHome says:

      Big Nicks was the saddest moments of a business closing in the neighborhood.
      Cleopatra Needle coming at close second.

      • Sue says:

        Westside Market was the one that did me in….Also Pricewise. And Scaletta . And and and and and and….

        • Sean says:

          The places mentioned reek of old age. The UWS shuts down at 10pm. The only potential businesses that could make it a go need to cater to the kids and seniors. The area is not hip. People do not spend money up here. Anyone who is 40 is waiting for the kids to be born and a move to NJ. They work in financial services and head downtown for a meal. The UWS is take out at best.

          • AlwaysUpperWest says:

            Sean – you are so wrong. Have you not noticed how many young families there are on the UWS? Streets are packed with them. It is a shame that so many of the fun, social businesses are going out of business. Thee are many Saturday nights where you don’t want to trek downtown for fun – you want to go out with friends to bars and restaurants and hear live music. It’s nice to see that the area in the lower 100s is picking up, but we do need MORE adult entertainment (not THAT kind!!) in the 70s and 80s. Maybe someone like Lee Seinfeld, one of the owners of Dive Bar (the best community watering hole in the area) can get together with other owners and open up some new joints. Live music is great and draws people in. There are definitely too many vacancies right now. And it has nothing to do with Jersey!

            • Sean says:

              It has to do with an aging demographic in the 60s and 70s. The young families spend differently. They are not going out to bars.

          • J. L. Rivers says:

            The UWS definitely needs a more vibrant nightlife. By vibrant I don’t mean clubby. I am well passed that stage. It is regrettable that there is not a single bar that stays open late and that has a nice crowd. Those places that do stay open a little late (and I mean “a little late”) make me look like a character in the Edward Hopper painting NIghthawks.
            Some worthwhile additions have opened recently, but like someone pointed out, they start clearing up by 10pm. IT is frustrating!

            • Sean says:

              The tourists at our hotels bemoan on Yelp that there is a lack of nightlife and shopping up here. It’s a bedroom community.

            • RB says:

              Not a big loss. UWS continues to be a dead zone…and an overpriced one too! Lived here from 2012-14 and again from 2018 to now and it’s gotten worse since my first stint here. Love that Dive 75 and Jacob’s Pickles is around but that’s not enough options when you’re paying this much for rent. Really needs more than another generic Mediterranean or Italian restaurant. Or a generic bar like Amsterdam Ale House where the average beer is $8-10 plus 4% credit card fee on top of that! Agree with other posters that this is neighborhood is essentially a place you come to sleep at night at 10pm and shop at Fairway.

          • Daniel Morgan says:

            I am over 70 and have lived in the West 70s since the late 1960s. The UWS is really dead, especially after around 10 pm now.
            The “old” days bars and restaurants were hopping well over 11 p.m. and many of them were great Cheers-types bars. Mostly all gone. Sure there are younger singles and couples on the UWS; but they seem to hit the sack early to get to their high paying jobs early. And there certainly are many seniors, but not many go out late-except me. I much prefer going to SoHo or Tribeca. So much different and fun than up here now. I have read that parts of Brooklyn are “very hot” but I rarely go down there.

            • Sean says:

              The focus for the West 70s is Lincoln Center and Fairway. The population is largely seniors in subsidized apartments watching MSNBC 24/7.

          • Roy says:

            Sean, and where do you live that you can be so critical? How old are you, to be so judgmental. I lived on the upper west side for many years until just recently. It still has a variety of good restuarants at affordable prices. Name a neighbor that has more diversity?

        • lynn says:

          ITA about the Westside Market. I work on the UES very close to it’s new location on Lexington and it appears to be doing very well. I don’t know that I actually believe the rent is cheaper in that neighborhood so I”m really at a loss to explain why it’s flourishing over there and couldn’t do so on Broadway.

          • Sean says:

            Different neighborhood. The UWS store floor-plan was horrendous. It was located in a hotel and not a residential building. Fairway still is the sales leader in the area. The chain is up for sale. The rent is also I about to go up on the one building to the left which Fairway does not own.

            • lynn says:

              I agree that the floor plan was messed up when they were on B’way, but it surprisingly it became a cool place to go, as if no one on the UES had ever shopped in market before. I had a good laugh about your Lincoln Center & Fairway comment (so true), lol. Happy Holidays!

    2. Karen L Bruno says:

      Terrible, the politicians are doing nothing while the UWS circles the drain.

    3. Janice says:

      I am SO sorry to hear this. This was my go-to place for years. Great, great place. I hope the owner is able to relocate. Even if it’s a smaller space, I’ll go.

      And yes, a big loss for the UWS.

    4. Betsy says:

      Very sad to see this place go. It was a gem.

    5. Leonor Melgar says:

      Very sad and a big Loss!

    6. UWS says:

      Can someone please tell me what exactly Greg Bishop the Commissioner of Small Business does? He is also suppose to oversee the Business Improvement Districts in the city which he is failing daily. The BIDs do NOTHING to help these long time small businesses.

    7. Jeremy says:

      I lived above Cleo’s. It was challenging – they couldn’t care less about noise codes. I think they were in litigation with their landlord at some point as well.

    8. KSF says:


      SO HOW ABOUT IT????


    9. Pqdubya says:

      Hope someone else takes over. Tried to get a drink there several times over the years but service was awful and the Owner unbelievably rude

      • Maggie says:

        Owner was unhinged and banished several people for little reason. Sorry the club can’t make it, but a big part of its demise is due to poor service and the

      • Kathleen says:

        I agree, the service was awful and the staff was rude. We used to go there many years ago but when it changed hands, so did the character of the place and the quality of the experience. I’d rather spend more and go to SMOKE.

      • Tintin says:

        Agree about the service. Sad to see the place go, the music was fantastic, but hadn’t gone there in some time due to the bizarre behavior of the bartender (owner?). Beyond rude. Really sad, because otherwise a fantastic spot.

    10. Leon says:

      Sorry to hear this – seemed like a nice spot.

      And to all of the deniers, note that he said that the increased minimum wage was one of the causes. Don’t you think some of those employees would be happy to still be working at a slightly lower wage? I am all for minimum wage, but a huge shock to the system like the one that NY just implemented just does not work…

      • nycityny says:

        He said the minimum wage was ONE reason, not THE reason. And still there are plenty of other people working at McDonald’s, Duane Reade and the like who are happy to be making a higher wage and whose lives have improved because of it. You can’t deny that either.

      • Ted Leibowitz says:

        If the wages were ONLY slightly lower they probably would not have been a problem.

        Actually more people paying with traceable credit cards is becoming a major problem for what was in the past “cash businesses.”

      • sp says:

        The number one factor is THE RENT. Funny how you don’t lament landlord gouging business owners, but you are so quick to demand that people work for less than livable wages. Shame on you.

        • Leon says:

          Rent is going up because real estate taxes are increasing very quickly. Real estate taxes are increasing to pay the exorbitant pension and health care benefits for city employees, as well as the ridiculous costs of projects due to outdated union rules. Landlords are not lining their pockets with the extra money.

          And I never said the sole cause was minimum wage, nor did the landlord. I was just providing more color on that specific cause.

          So much drama. Happy holidays!

          • Bruce bernstein says:

            Liberal leon,

            You apparently are not familiar with standard NYC commercial leases. Increased real estate taxes are passed through to tenants as escalation clauses, every year. They have no effect on landlord expenses.

            Rent going up is a function of what the landlord thinks he can get, and has nothing to do with property taxes

            • Patrick says:

              That’s not entirely true.

              A standard lease passes along the INCREASE in RE taxes due to the value the store brings to the building. Not the base RE tax, which increases every year and is exorbitant.

              Rent is high due to zoning rules regarding supply, high demand, and insane tax. You see even in the UWS rents actually falling now due to less demand for retail.

              A big reason these stores close is because they rented 15 years ago and their business model can’t handle a current rent. But that’s not something a landlord can limit and still pay his taxes.

              Perhaps all caring taxpayers should start subsidizing small businesses with rent subsides?

    11. Ethan says:

      Isn’t it more like 40 years? I seem to recall it being there around 1980. I could be wrong.

      • Sally F says:

        I think it started up a few blocks north on the same side of the street, as At Our Place, maybe in the late ’70’s?

        • UWSJazz says:

          I was there at the beginning. Maher’s brother Muhammad & his wife owned a quiet place we liked, AT OUR PLACE, on Bdwy just south of Symphony Space, with momma in the kitchen. When the hi-rise was built on that block, he moved to the 92nd – 93rd St. site & renamed it Cleopatra’s Needle. Just a quiet single-store front neighborhood restaurant for 5 yrs. The renowned jazz joint “J’s” on Bdwy & 97th St (where the dog groomer is now) was a major club / neighborhood hang all thru the ’80s to early ’90s. A young singer who couldn’t get booked there went down to hang at Cleo’s. They had a spinet piano for decoration & to have for events & he talked his way into their letting him sing there. Rarely the wife would sing, too. In Spring ’93, J’s closed. Musicians, bartenders, neighborhood hang types were all bereft – and shifted en masse to Cleo’s. The new patrons wanted music so Muhammad built the tiny stage. A baby grand soon replaced the spinet. All of us playing on the scene then played there often & mostly enjoyed it. The wife sung once a month & they booked top NYC & touring jazz talent, 7 nights a week & brunches. It was a huge hit, packed nightly & late night for jams. But they paid their bands very little — often $150/night for the band for 4 hrs of playing, terrible money even in ’90’s money. They expanded next door for a Take-Out spot, which failed. So they expanded the bar. Folks at the bar couldn’t see the band, so they put in that large TV screen w/ a camera to show the band on the screen. One night some clown came in & wanted the Knicks playoff game & showed them how to set it up & the chasm / war between TV & Jazz began. Muhammad soon began to think that HE was the reason for this nightly success instead of the power of the music & began to harass the musicians who slowly began to say, “Screw it,” & stop playing there, one by one, until nearly no one established on the NYC jazz scene would play there any more & the touring acts soon avoided it as well. But Muhammad discovered the local music schools — now between students there, and recent graduates from many other jazz programs around the U.S. just hitting the streets of NYC, he found a long line of young musicians willing to play for next-to-no money & stayed afloat w/ patrons who mostly didn’t care the bands were now inexperienced, and some not that good — there was no cover, so who cared? Then, within a couple-year period, the wife left him, his mother who cooked for years & kept the food at a very high level died, Muhammad himself died & his brother Maher took over. Until recently he maintained the $150/band music payment, insuring that mostly only beginning jazz players could afford to play there. Even with his many problems, Muhammad had treated the customers well & it was a comfortable, attractive place to spend an evening. The brother Maher though began to insult customers regularly & his rants at negative reviewers on Yelp are legendary. As with many who stopped going there after no longer playing music there, I knew little of Maher, never met him & knew little of how he ran it other than from horror stories from other musicians or neighborhood patrons. I only went in to hear friends. But soon, even that stopped. The food was lousy, the prices had gone thru the roof, the bartender was rude & mostly just a crummy bartender with a nasty disposition — and they still paid their musicians like crap. For most in the neighborhood, we always yearned for it to somehow magically improve & return to its 90s Glory; we all NEED a joint like Cleo’s in the area. But no one really needs what it became — a rip-off joint. We all need somewhere nearby to play & to hear great music, to have a decent meal & to run into friends. Alas, it never did regain that former level. Mostly, many wondered, “How does that place ever stay open?” Finally if fell — of its own, old, cheap, unpleasant weight. RIP. for what was, not for what it’d recently been.

      • Sally F says:

        I think it started out a few blocks north as At Our Place, maybe in the late 70s? I am REALLY sad to hear this.

        • Linda Amster says:

          The new owners recycled all the letters* of the original name, “AT OUR PLACE,” into “CLEOPATRA,” so they wouldn’t have to spend a lot of $ on new signage.

          *except “u”

          • It was the other way around. Started as cleopatra next to symphony space. The designer bought it and changed name to at our place while first owner moved a few south and opened Ghengas Khan’s Bicycle. That may be what became Cleopatras needle. (I worked at at our place)..

      • Lynn Shardlow says:

        Oh no…just read the news. It feels like I lost a bunch of friends in a terrible accident. Cleopatras Needle was wonderful, delightful, amazing. Christmas 🎄 every night with Live Jazz. One big happy family. And
        Inexpensive….maybe too inexpensive.. ..
        I’m so saddened, I’m shocked
        So sorry to hear Maher…

      • Aliya Cheskis-Cotel says:

        It was at 94th and Broadway in 1979, called At Our Place, and then, Mohammed, Maher’s brother reopened it after finishing architecture school at U of Michigan. Mohammed (of blessed memory)’s wife Stacey was a jazz singer so he wanted to open a place for her. So they took the hand crafted large wooden letters of the place on 94th which was called At Our Place and played anagrams, added a U, and came up with Cleopatra’s! Mohammed was nice and Maher not nice. I’m sure if Mohammed were still alive he and Stacey would have worked it out with the landlords.

    12. Sallyagogo says:

      The old man and I loved this place. Ambiently awful. Food was meh. But the music. Ah, the music. Everything else faded, then transformed into something delightful. Ideally, one wouldn’t have to close one’s eyes and mouth to enjoy. Imagine ambience, delicious food, and good music. Holy trifecta! I’m not surprised it closed but I am sad.

    13. Albert says:

      It feels as though our neighborhood is undergoing forced sterilization.

    14. Thomas Hallinan says:

      30 years? I met my wife there in 1976.

    15. Ben David says:

      So on the one hand, we now have a progressive minimum wage that allows hard-working people in restaurants to earn more money–that is good. On the other hand, because they are being forced to pay a higher government-mandated minimum wage, restaurant owners cannot afford to keep their businesses going, and workers lose their jobs–that is bad. Workers go from minimum wage to no wage at all.
      The current system is not working.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        Did you read what the owner actually said? It was mainly the RENT that forced him to close. The minimum wage is the same everywhere in nyc; the rents are not, and are much more extreme on UWS (and some other neighborhoods).

    16. Sonja says:

      Anyone know how to get in touch with the owner? Would
      Love to revive this neighborhood mainstay.

      • Yes, woman! The closure really is a motive and opportunity for action.

        And it’s true, there’s not much good-clean-fun nightlife in the area. I love the National Theatre films at Symphony Space, but it’s occasional.

    17. Uhlee says:

      Is everyone oblivious to the growth of the mendicants who are harassing people on this and following 2 blocks? Opening doors for the customers when trying to enter stores, asking for money, & DeBlasio giving them more & more housing in this neighborhood. This whole area has gone for the worst, & absolutely nobody gives a damn. I love living on the UWS, but in the 40 years since I’ve been here, it was never this bad.

    18. Mary says:

      Loved this place!! So sorry to see this!! Hope to see it open elsewhere!

    19. UWSer says:

      I had a terrible experience here – the owner was screaming and completely inappropriate and so I never came back. If I were a betting man this is likely part of what forced them to close – abusive ownership doesn’t often generate repeat customers.

    20. John Cavuoto says:

      Darn, Have been there many times over the years the late night jams and sets were always happening. one night comes to mind. Wanye Shoters Footprints was played by the musicians just fantastic.. Hope they reopen someplace Best of luck

    21. Liifeoong UWS says:

      I wall by every day. I didn’t have a clue they closed tonight. Wow.

      I agree about Washington Heights. It would do great there.

    22. Michael says:

      May God damn all landlords.

    23. Dresden says:

      Too sad! I love walking my dog by there almost every night and people are always there enjoying the food and music.
      The owners are sooo nice.

      It was a true gem in this neighborhood,
      whether you were inside,
      or even the times walking by, outside.

      This neighborhood is becoming so depressing.
      New York I love(d) ya, but you’re bringing me down.

    24. jezbel says:

      Its not just the restaurants, that have been hard to take. The Linen shop, Duane Reade on B’way at 76th, West Side Market at B’way at 77th, Ichinari Steaks was there for about 60 days. Barney’s for women between 75th & 76th. Fairway Market is for sale. At least 2 Starbucks, Arnie’s Deli. Little places we’ve taken for granted. And nothing in their place. I think we’re going thru another period of obscene wealth (Hudson Yards) and the have-nots. There’s no room for middle class. Just rich and poor. It’s really very sad.

    25. Sean says:

      It’s the end of an era.

    26. Jean Luke says:

      As an owner of a small business on the Upper West Side I can attest to the business assault by the city. We are constantly bombarded with fines, permits, regulations, inspections and paperwork that costs a fortune and takes an immense amount of time to handle.

      On top of that we have to pay expensive accountants and lawyers to handle all the over regulation. Add to that the raise in minimum wage and its a recipe for a lot more small business closures on the Upper West Side.

    27. liora says:

      come on people, the place was terrible. the food was inedible, the owner was nasty and the music mediocre. It should have closed years ago. it is a wonder that it lasted that long

      • Leon says:

        Ye . sure . it is the monicipality’s fault’ never blame the “poor” restaurants bars and pubs – was it really a restaurant? really?
        Alas it is sad to see any place closed . But hold ! there is an end to everything – that is so normal and there are thousands of places that march on !!!! How comes?

      • Pqdubya says:


      • shimon says:


    28. Rhett West says:

      Very sad Landlords need to control They’re greediness
      They are hurting great places n great people that built this city these neighborhoods. SHAME ON THEM!

      • Sean says:

        Oh please. 30 years for a restaurant at a location you don’t own? That’s an achievement.

      • patrick says:

        When you are willing to pay higher taxes to help subsidize the rent, and by extension, the landlords increases Real Estate taxes, I’ll believe you care about tackling greed.

    29. Chris says:

      Sad news. 25 years ago I lived diagonally across the street and went there frequently, also celebrated my 30th birthday there.

    30. Bina itka says:

      Maybe if the owner hadn’t been so nasty and the food of a decent quality he could have stayed open. Read the comments on yelp to understand how mean spirited he and his staff were. Take responsibility for your actions

    31. Tag Gross says:

      Everyone lauding this place has suspect taste in food and music and obviously never set foot in Mikell’s

      • geoff says:

        has mikell’s surfaced someplace else? my place is the sugar bar, which runs warm and cool, but would like another (other than smoke).

      • @davidaron60 says:

        Yes, thanks for the memories, only Mikkels had a world class jazz line-up almost every night. Those were the days of better night life on the uws. It wasn’t always a morgue up here.

      • UWSJazz says:

        Thanks for the Mikell’s reference.
        Forget all the little shops we’ve lost over 40, 50 yrs., we’ve lost some great music venues up here over time…
        That some could savor the general level of Cleo’s music fare of the last 20 yrs is heartbreaking…

    32. Zanarkand says:

      I went 10 years ago on one of the first days I moved to the neighborhood. Good music but food was average, service was inadequate, and prices high. I don’t mind paying a cover charges up front. But don’t like drink minimums and cover charges built into prices of food and drinks.

    33. Sherman says:

      I’m sorry CL has closed but thirty years is a long run.

      There have been a tremendous number Middle Eastern or Mediterranean restaurants opening in the UWS over the past few years.

      I’m sure the competition from these places hurt CL. Weak Yelp reviews were also likely not good for business.

    34. Jan says:

      Thank goodness. It’s about time. The owner was the worst, the service was atrocious, the prices were ridiculous. I remember talking to one of the singers and complaining that the owner had just said something extremely inappropriate to me. She said “please don’t let him see me talking to you or he won’t let me sing here anymore.” What the hell is that?
      Read the reviews here. They’ll curl your hair.

    35. Lisa says:

      Live nearby. Went in once and the food was truly terrible. Forgot after a couple of years, stopped in again. And the food was truly terrible. If it had been the least bit inviting I would have hung out there. Need a neighborhood joint. But….I figured the music lovers must have kept it open.

    36. Peter Peyser says:

      Again we have business owners complaining about having to pay a living wage. If you’re business doesn’t generate enough revenue to pay a decent wage then it’s not really a going concern is it?

    37. Lena says:

      Owner complains about paying his employees the minimum wage? Trumper Alert!! NO THANKS. Next!

    38. Barbara says:

      I want to thank Hussein from the bottom of my heart for all the wondrous evenings I have had, eating dinner at the bar and listening to jazz, and catching sports silently on the TV overhead, and meeting up with people who have become lasting friends. Cleopatra’s Needle was a wonderful place for an early dinner after a walk in Riverside Park, or a late night every night destination. I am so deeply grateful to Hussein for making my life warmer and richer and happier, and for his many kindnesses, including giving young people the chance to get together to play jazz. Thank you for being what matters on the Upper West Side, and what is fading, one place at a time, to chain stores and rich people. My love to everyone who went there regularly, whom I may never see again, and to all the musicians. My best wishes to Hussein. Thank you so very much.

    39. You didn’t mention the closing of Henry’s, which was a real loss to the neighborhood.

    40. Carkos says:

      DO YOU HAVE CONTACT INFO FOR THE OWNER? We are the owners of Whispers Restaurant on 94th Drreet. We are selling. Have someone call Carlos at 845-313-2814. We have one of the cheapest rents in the area. Thank you

    41. BJB says:

      I want to defend the owner from comments made. My view is that he was always a gentleman to those who behaved with respect and empathy towards others, and only asked belligerent and inappropriate and personally insulting people to leave. Which made it a safe haven from brutes for single women, among other things, and a place that was not for drunks or freeloaders or people who were disrespectful or demeaning to Hussein or to their own girlfriends or wives. I appreciated this very much and it was part of the “oasis” feel of the magical beautiful ambiance that it was a safe and decent place where people who were there to hear music and share space together could do it in a nice way. If you were kicked out, you deserved to be. Honor, respect, music, and community ruled the day at Cleopatra’s Needle. The owner is a true gentleman who ruled a good and decent ship.

    42. Michael Kopelow says:

      Maybe if they treated customers with decency they’d remain open. Horribly rude service the last time I was there.

    43. Sean says:

      The new NYC is Hudson Yards. Manhattan is not totally for the rich and the tourists. No one is a local anymore. Time to move to Spain. Europe has health care.

    44. Che says:

      Didn’t a community effort keep Westsider Books open? Mr. Hussein is considering opening at another location. If that happens, may it be not too far from this one.

    45. Jacob S. Kant says:

      I am sad for the musicians and those who patronized Cleopatra’s Needle for the music. It was literally the only thing this restaurant had going. I found the service lacking most times, and the owner was given to outbursts of recalcitrant treatment to some patrons. Just look at the Google and Yelp reviews for the restaurant to get a glimpse of the owner’s true colors. He regularly called people “jerks”, “low lives” and other foul names just because they posted a review voicing their discontent with the service received. Most of those reviews were well written and seemed to express a genuine regret for the service.
      I reiterate that I truly feel bad for the musicians, who now have one place less to jam and entertain jazz lovers in the city. We need more places like that. But when it comes to Cleopatra’s Needle…GOOD RIDDANCE!

    46. Bodhivata Dharmashanti says:

      I am truly saddened by the news. It’s not about losing a restaurant, after all NYChas thousands to chose from.It’s about losing a place that fostered the arts.
      If we don’t change our outlook inlife and understand that we ALL need to protect the arts, we will ALL turn into animals. Art is indeed what differentiate humans from any other realm, even that of the gods.

      I wish you to find a new location, where you can continue your live jazz legacy and advertise it so we know where to find you.
      With love I wish you a wonderful Christmas full of creative ideas for continuation.
      Bodhivata Dharmashanti

    47. Marcus says:

      The IDEA of Cleopatra’s Needle was great but the reality was not. At all! And to add insult to injury, this decades-old establishment did very little for the community that supported it all those years.

    48. Jan Opalach says:

      SMOKE jazz club has closed as well!!

    49. Scooby Do says:

      It all came down to who the musicians that were or were not playing there as well as the fact that the owner didn’t know a lot about the genre of music he had performing there. Also the menu didn’t improve over the years. The owner is a nice guy though. He should try Harlem !

    50. George says:

      It’s crazy to me that rents in the UWS still have a similar price per square foot as sub-14th Street spaces, yet there’s not nearly the same foot traffic in this neighborhood — residents or visitors — to support it.

    51. Carol M. says:

      Unfortunately, NYC is looking more like ‘Anywhere, USA’….banks, drugstores & Starbucks proliferate our beautiful, unique-in-the-past City. All the “only in NY” places are going fast – pretty soon tourists will have little reason to visit, maybe without their dollars the artistic haunts will begin to reappear; one can only hope!
      Until then, I remain a sad upper-westsider.

    52. Rob G. says:

      The Upper West Side died a long time ago, this is just another part of the decomposing process. High taxes, commercial rents and the new minimum wage are certainly to be blamed, but IMO if we don’t figure out a way to get some young professionals to move up here, we will see much more of this.

      • B.B. says:

        Young professionals are moving to UWS; and that is part of the problem.

        Am referring to those who normally would have fled to the suburbs; but now choose to make city their home. However they don’t want a Manhattan as it was; but some sort of suburb in the city sort of place. As such they moan about any and everything which is *NOT* like suburbs. This includes any or all sorts of what they call “noise”.

        Just look at how people went on and on about those “Caution Bus Is Turning” announcements. ” I can’t sleep”, “I can’t sit in my apartment during the day and concentrate….”

        Happily for them thanks to major architect of this “Berkeley on the Hudson) Rudy Giuliani gave these people a powerful set of tools; nuisance abatement laws.

        City has used such complaints to shut down or fine out of existence bars, nightclubs, etc… all over.

        This likely make up those “other bureaucratic difficulties” mentioned above.

        • Josh says:

          Nuisance abatement laws were created in the 70s by Lindsay or Beame. Giuliani had nothing to do with it, like everything else he claims.

        • Rob G. says:

          Gotta disagree with you on this one. What I’m saying is that the current demographics, at least between 86th & say, mid-100s, seems to be largely geriatrics or families with young kids (mine included), or low-income/supported/shelter residents – none of which are able to support any kind of nightlife. Go to the UES, Downtown, or Brooklyn, and you have way more of the “young professionals” that I’m referring to. The UES in particular seems to be populated by a more affluent “empty-nester” crowd as well. The nightlife in these areas is hopping, the restaurants are crowded, and the overall mood is different. Maybe I’m wrong, but to me that’s why our restaurants are closing at 10 PM, because there’s no one to frequent them.

    53. Bina itka says:

      Get real. He was a rude racist who has a severe mental disability. As a single woman who would stop in for a drink and never created any problem, I observed his totally indifferent or inappropriate behavior towards me and others. Before you blame the victim, get your inaccurate statements corrected

    54. Ron Wasserman says:

      My musician friends will give you a different take. They aren’t sad to see this go really. The $50 per night pay never rose, even as the Martinis went from 5 to 15 over the years.

    55. auggie says:

      So sad that the owner wouldn’t pay a living wage to his great staff who were able to fill every seat at the bar on the nights they worked.He didn’t appreciate the bands or his staff and served the worst food he could possibly get away with at high prices, that’s why he is out of business.

    56. gluzband says:

      i’m a musician who played at Cleos many times. ok,,,,the bread was short, but still, great to have a jazz hang to walk in for free. just compare to the prices at Smoke (formerly Augies which was another no cover jazz hang) I never really cared for the food, but the drinks were priced properly for a no cover situation. and I NEVER experienced racism there.

    57. Naimah Mustafaa says:

      I will miss “The Needle” as us musians use to call it.I remember many well known musicans and singers there,playing and sharing the musical stage with other not so well known.This was one of the last places that was truly “about “the music”…when other places were about”the money only”…but when one door closes another opens..still.sad Christmas day… The closing of “The Needle”

    58. LeeOlive Tucker says:

      I hadn’t a clue it was endangered. I know Maher,have played there for years, w/ Dr.Satch’mo Mannan & the Harlem Renaissance Band. I looked so forward to coming in to be part of the Coming Year’s Jazz Roster. I’d still be willing to be part of any effort made to Assist in the re- establishment of Live Music 7 days a week in NY,N.Y. Sincerely,
      LeeOlive Tucker,the Harlem Diva.

    59. Deborah Raymar says:

      This is so sad. I loved singing at Cleo’s on Wednesdays. I will miss seeing my fellow singers on Wed nights. I especially will miss the fabulous musicians who were such fun to sing with, talk with, joke with, and who made us all sound good. Steve Little, Les Kurtz, and Mark Nelms. Hoping we will be lucky enough to sing with them somewhere else closeby.

    60. Tom B. says:

      Cleo’s was spacious, laid-back and open-ended, casual and not hustling the music as most clubs do. Wonderfully relaxed and
      unpredictable that way, with wonderful things unexpectedly
      happening.As the great Willie ‘the Lion’ SMITH once said: The
      best music happens in a back room, and that’s really what Cleo’s was, a back room for jazz! In some ways Maher took
      after the ‘Soup Nazi’ out of Seinfeld, and chased many of his
      best customers away. I was one of them. Haven’t gone back for
      a year. and he probably lost two to three thousand in martini
      sales from that alone.No reason for that,believe me…….

    61. fred says:

      Legendary place for its terrible treatment of musicians…

    62. L. Baker says:

      Food here was always high quality, especially meat dishes. Vegetables and salads fresh produce always. The owner worked hard daily. I always appreciated and enjoyed the meals here, especially the burger platter. The lasagna was better than at an Italian restaurant. Cleopatra’s was awarded Unsung Heroes Award of Upper West Side and Best Eats in Town, Rachel Ray with the owner cooking.I believe this was aired on TV across the country on the Food Network.