By Carol Tannenhauser
For a decade, Hi-Life Bar & Grill, a popular neighborhood spot on the corner of Amsterdam and West 83rd Street, has labored under a sidewalk shed. Earl Geer, Hi-Life’s owner for 32 years, has a great simile for the situation. “Living under a sidewalk shed for 10 years is like wanting to show the world your shiny (neon) smile, but being forced to wear big, ugly metal braces — and the dentist is permanently out to lunch!”
Well, Earl’s long wait is over. On Friday, January 27, at 8 a.m., Hi-Life is getting its braces off! The sidewalk shed is coming down. It will probably take more than a day, and Earl’s a little worried they’ll damage his neon signs in the process, but mostly he’s just thrilled about “getting our corner back,” he said. And he’s planning a celebration.
“In the tradition of an Amish “barn raising,” when neighbors came together, we’ll have a “scaffolding lowering” outside Hi-Life Friday from 5-6 p.m.,” Earl announced. “We’ll be serving complimentary hot toddy’s and thanking our neighbors in person for their support during the decade we’ve been hidden by scaffolding.”
If you want to understand why sheds and scaffolding stay up for so long, read our special report, The Omnipresence of Scaffolding and Its Impact on City Lives; Why and What Is Being Done? And for another recent scaffolding sayonara, read about the unveiling of Joan of Arc School. And look for photographs of a bright and shiny Hi-Life Bar & Grill in WSR soon.
I will be there love this place food and music.
The scaffolding situation/local law 11 is getting out of hand. It’s killing workers, blighting the city, costing co-ops and property owners millions and causing small businesses to needlessly suffer. We need this law radically reformed or repealed. For example, why is there a 5 year inspection cycle. Why not 10 years if the facade is safe? And why can’t it be done by visual inspection from the ground, not a hoist (necessitating the sidewalk shed)? And why do buildings set back from the street by fencing also require a sidewalk shed? No one wants dangerous facades but the law is poorly thought out and causing huge problems for the city. Reform or repeal should be one of the top priorities of our elected officials (and voters).
I’ve stated this before (I’m on the Board of my condo for the past 15 years) – the major issue is the cycle starts every 5 years, NOT 5 years AFTER you finish the LL11 work. At a MINIMUM, the law should state the cycle starts after the work is completed, this will effectively change the time frame from every 5 years to about 7-8 since it takes 2-3 years to do an inspection and complete any work.
Scaffolding around the city will automatically be reduced proportionately.
Jess, run for office – you’ve got my vote! 😁🙌👌
Ditto. Single campaign issue: Update Local Law 11
This is actually making me much happier than it should. Great. Effing. News!
Oh, I will be there with bells on! I enjoy the occasional martini or pint here, but even if you don’t, this will make the entire neighborhood sparkle just a little bit more. Big congrats to Mr. Geer! (Full disclosure: I live next door to The Charlotte and had scaffolding over my window for three years, so I’ve got extra feelings towards this situation.)
God bless Earl for being such a mensch throughout this ordeal and keeping the establishment’s spirit strong and positive. Cheers!🥂
Nice to read this feel good story. Keep them coming! Thanks.
I’m happy Hi Life survived. I lost my Greeting Card and gift shop of 28 years do to scaffolding. Cardeology had to finally close shop 6 years ago. We were at 526 Amsterdam Avenue. The shed finally came down 4 years after our departure, only to return last year. How these Landlords get away with this is astonishing.
Cardeology was the best. Still miss it.
I got an on my phone for West Side Cardiology – and for a brief moment , I thought you were back! Loved your shop. Just the other day I said I wish it was still here.
Landlords don’t want to pay someone to block their building. It’s the excesses of FISP/Local Law 11 that require it
So happy high life is finally going to be out in the open again!
I LOVED YOUR STORE. Miss it all the time.
I sent a message to Abreu’s office urging that the 5 year cycle be lengthened. Never got a reply, don’t know whether anyone paid attention.
The scaffolding along with the broken down dining sheds have turned the NYC streetscape in many areas into terrible eyesores. And anytime the scaffolding comes down across the street new ones will pop up. I can’t think of any other city that has the same scaffolding situation.
Technically, the structures that cover over the sidewalk are called sidewalk bridges or sidewalk sheds. Scaffolding normally refers to the installation that allows workers to work on the building’s facade, whether the scaffolding is “pipe scaffolding,” made of piping and supported from below on a surface, or is suspended or provided by an aerial lift.
Yay! Have the tuna steak dinner. It’s fantastic! And of course, it’s Hi-Life, so a Manhattan is a must.