SideWalk cafe’s iconic stage goes silent

sidewalk, diane cluck and lightning lewis
From left, Brent Cole, Adam Green and Jackie Dishes at SideWalk on its closing night. (Photos by Jim Flynn)

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | After more than 30 years on Avenue A, SideWalk cafe closed after this past weekend. Famed for its open mic, the place went out with a final installment of the Antifolk Festival.

Local blog EV Grieve reported in December that the bar and restaurant at E. Sixth St. had new owners, Laura Saniuk-Heinig and Alyssa Sartor. According to Grieve, Saniuk-Heinig is the general manager at the Bar Room on E. 60th St. and Sartor co-owned August Laura in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Diane Cluck and Lightning Lewis performing on SideWalk’s last night.

The new owners reportedly plan to keep live music, but it’s not exactly clear what kind that will be.

Pitchfork noted that SideWalk provided a stage early in their careers for artists such as Beck — before he headed west — Michelle Shocked, the Moldy PeachesRegina Spektor and Darwin Deez, among others.

SideWalk was known for having live music, comedy and open mics nightly without any cover charge.

Regina Spektor wowed the crowd, as usual.

“Hope they don’t make it into a Starbucks,” one regular lamented on Facebook.

The day after New Year’s, Downtown lost another beloved live-performance venue when the Cornelia St. Cafe closed after more than four decades in business.

“It’s about the rent,” the cafe’s owner, Robin Hirsch, said at the time.

Musicians and music fans filled the back room of the Avenue A venue for its final night before it closes for renovations under its new owners.
Soaking in the tunes.
Enjoying good times and memories of SideWalk.
Erin Regan singing during SideWalk’s finale.