PHOTO ESSAY by RICHARD MOORE
Three familiar faces greeted Hell’s Kitchen drinkers as Rudy’s legendary dive bar opened its doors at noon today (Sunday). Owner Jack Ertl was on hand, along with long-time general manager Danny DePamphilis — and, of course, Baron von Swine had his wave and piggy smile ready at the door of the 9th Avenue saloon.
Jack, now in his 90s, has been drinking at the bar for 75 years — and has been the owner of the bar and 5-story building since 1982. The pandemic was the first time that Rudy’s had closed from its 365 day operation.
There’s been a saloon on the site since at least the late 1800s — and the bar was run as a speakeasy during prohibition, when it included Al Capone as a customer. The name Rudy’s came in the 1930s when German immigrants Helen and Ewon Rudy opened the present New York watering hole.
Rudy’s has had more than its share of celebrity clientele enjoying the dive bar’s low profile. Rudy’s website lists Paul McCartney, Anthony Bourdain, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, Lauryn Hill, Tommy Ramone, Dexter Gordon, Sonia Braga, Ethan Hawke, Slash (of Guns N’ Roses), Colm Meaney, Norman Mailer, Christina Hendricks, JFK Jr., Morley Safer, Timothy Hutton, Johnny Knoxville, Halle Berry, Pauley Perrette, Jimmy Fallon, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.
Another claim to fame for Rudy’s is featuring in the Steely Dan song Black Cow. As for the landmark pig: “Baron has stood vigil at the door for about 30 years, and was only stolen twice before we bolted his big butt down,” shared Jack.
Under Rudy’s low lights, one famous actress used to slip in as a regular until news of her 20th birthday hit the papers: “The saddest night I ever had in this bar was when I had to tell Drew Barrymore she couldn’t come back ‘til she was legal. I hated to do it because she was so nice,” said Danny, who started bartending at Rudy’s in 1990 before becoming GM in 2005.
Doors will open daily at noon for now — 8am opening is hoped to resume again soon.
Photos by Richard Moore. richardmoore.com