The New Acme Bar & Grill Will Be "A Contemporary Acme"

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After the general manager of Acme Bar & Grill told us that the restaurant would be closing, we got a message from its owner, Robert Pollock. Pollock, who inherited the Great Jones Street establishment in 1995, wanted to let us know that the place would only be closed temporarily for renovations. Curious to know what sort of establishment it would be when it reopens, we called Pollock and got some answers.

"I know this is insane," Pollock says of the sudden closure. "But we had to make some drastic changes." The almost 25-year-old restaurant, he explains, "was built on a shoestring" and has long been in dire need of renovations. "A new HVAC, kitchen, exhaust system" are among the structural updates he'll be making during Acme's closure, which he estimates will be a few months.

And then there are the updates to the restaurant's staff. "We're dealing with a problem right now at the bar where employees didn't come in and didn't know what was happening," he says. "We had a bunch of drunk employees in the place." He pauses. "They've been loyal employees for years. We just need some changes."

Can he elaborate upon why he's rewarding their loyalty in this manner? "I don't know what to tell you." Another pause. "It's become a little sloppy." Although Acme's "C" rating "eventually got to maybe a 'B'" (it's actually still a "C"), there were "cleanliness" issues. "Everything has been a Band-Aid, not been a real fix. We were just fixing as we went along. The employees weren't too happy when I went to close [the restaurant] a few months ago; they didn't want to take off. It was almost like fighting a union. There were a lot of things going on that I didn't like. I tried to make corrections, and they didn't like it."

Pollock, who also owns the Great Jones Spa, has been busy "picking up a lot of great personnel from restaurants that have been closing in the past year." He declines to say which ones.

When Acme reopens, he says, "it's going to be a contemporary Acme" and "a much-better-tasting Acme." Although some of the menu, which is heavy on calorie-intensive Cajun and Southern dishes, will remain intact, Pollock is "hoping for lighter fare. We want a healthier meal. It's known as the place you can only eat once a year. I don't want that. I want it to be a place where [people] can go once a week instead of once in a while."

Pollock is hoping the food will attract "new faces and new money," though he claims he'd like Acme to remain "a neighborhood bar" and to retain its clientele. Whether his current customers will recognize the new Acme remains to be seen: When it reopens, Pollock says, "it's not going to be the roadhouse look anymore. It will have a more contemporized look. Warm and at the same time contemporary. When you go in there, you'll have the reminiscence of Acme. It'll be on the walls."

Though maybe not in its famous hot-sauce collection. "There are a lot of dust collectors now," Pollock says."We wanted to make it feel a little cleaner."

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13 comments
TOLLAH
TOLLAH

ACME being closed is straight up WACK!!! The food was great and the people that worked there were cool. Ive eaten there plenty and left satisfied. Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to me.

Keith
Keith

Been a regular there for awhile, and I too, have never seen a drunk employee. Everyone there, especially Rudy, was always top-notch.

Tim
Tim

Sigh. I work in the area a lot and went there MORE than once a year. The staff were always very nice and treated me well. The food was enjoyable as well. I made it a point to go there every time I ran a show @ the theater.... I brought my wife there, good friends there, co-workers there and even worked a few shows that were catered by ACME. (or at least they supplied a shitload of food to it ). It was a nice place to eat, pure and simply.

It seems that the owner is an unfortunately all to numerous example of a type of predatory piece of fecal matter and his remark about unions is very apropos in that his behavior is why unions formed in the first place...

RIP guys I, my wife and many people liked ACME very much and will miss it sorely. And if it's true that it becomes a 'yuppie lounge' I hope, sympathies for the new staff not withstanding, that it fails miserably.

fritz
fritz

Is this guy kidding me? I have been a faithful patron on Acme since it opened. I have NEVER seen a drunk employee, and have had nothing but excellent service. It's vile that he is publicly speaking of his employees in this manner. IF it ever reopens, I'll visit once, and if I don't see familiar faces, he will have lost a loyal patron of nearly 25 years - not that loyalty seems to matter much to this guy.

Gigi
Gigi

Went to have brunch at Acme yesterday morning and was sad to see it shut down. No sign. NOTHING. I have been going to ACME for years and have put many people on to ACME and they also are long time patrons. This is beyond sad. I'd also like to say, I've never seen any drunk employees but I have seen some (quietly) drunk customers due to Rudy's amazing expertise behind the bar! I hope the staff finds a new restaurant that will appreciate their dedication. This was definately one of my go-to spots, not only in Noho but in Manhattan period. :(

Loyal Customer
Loyal Customer

Wow Bob, really? Drunk employees? I am not nor have I ever been an Acme employee. I have been an Acme customer for many years and in all the time I have been going there I can say that I have NEVER come into contact with ANY drunk employees. The staff and the managers were always great and I looked forward to my visits. ACME will surely be missed by its customers!

bestofluck
bestofluck

What a shame it is for my experience at acme to end so fast. There wasn't much that I knew, and I barely had the time to grow from it, but it felt really comfortable to be there. The waiters were extremely nice, the managers weren't assholes (like in most other places), and it more or less consisted of down to earth people that enjoyed each others company. I really do wish I could have worked there longer, and had gotten to fully adjust to acme. As my first rester-aunt job I felt really lucky to have it, and the pay was really good, but what I loved the most from my short stay, was the environment it had to offer and the people I worked with. Now I feel robbed of the possibility to grow and learn from it, and that such a place is rare to find. Even though I found a new job, it consists of stressed out managers treating you like tools leaving a constant reminder of how great the staff at acme was. The value of the following statement may not have much, due to my lack of experience at acme, but I am sure this Mr.Pollock is completely wrong with the claims he has placed on his staff. They all seemed to be responsible with the duties they were given, while working in a calm manner that got the job done, and the customers happy. In the end, all I can say is that, I'm going to miss working at acme, and I thank everyone for giving me the experience while working there, I believe it was the best way to start a rester-aunt job, and I wish you guys luck, considering how you actually have to pay bills unlike my ass. Best of luck to you all.

Megastar007
Megastar007

After a few years of being subjected to the whims of Whack Job Bob, I saw this coming and split...

yet another sober one
yet another sober one

I too have been one the staff at ACME, and for Mr. Pollock to blindside his staff by closing with no notice and then call them names and say things about them that are blatantly untrue and rather slanderous shocks and saddens me.

Mr. Pollock’s employees did their best to keep his restaurant running and make the customers feel warmly welcomed. They actually cared about his business and did what they could do to keep it thriving. For him to refer to them as “a bunch of drunk employees” who “didn’t come in” could not be more hurtful or more of a falsehood. Is he saying this to justify his treatment of them to the public? And to re-iterate what has been already stated above, if his employees “didn’t know what was happening” it is because they were never told what was happening. His employees came in to work only to find that they had no job, and others who were not scheduled that day were not called or informed at all that they no longer had a job, but had to hear it through the grapevine and then verify it in the paper. Surely if the employees were to leave they would have been expected to give 2 weeks notice, but Mr. Pollock seems to think it’s fine for him to blindside the employees who were loyal to him by shutting down without any notice.

It is sad that ACME received a “C” rating, (even sadder that, according to this article, Mr. Pollock does not seem to even know what the exact rating was) but that is not the fault of the employees who simply did their jobs the way they were told to do it. It is also Sad that Mr. Pollock does not seem to feel that there were enough “new faces and new money” coming to ACME, but to lay the blame for that on his staff most certainly seems like a deflection of responsibility. Perhaps if Mr. Pollock had taken more of an interest in his business, simply understood it better or ever talked to the staff at all and gotten any input from them than he could have avoided that rating and improved business. It is unfortunate that he simply blamed them. I don’t know what corrections he tried to make that the staff didn’t like. To my knowledge anyone who was told by the manager to change something changed it. Mr. Pollock did not speak to me about any corrections and I have no knowledge of him correcting anyone else.

Also, for Mr. Pollock to state that the employees were told a few months ago that the restaurant was closing and that “It was almost like fighting a union” is another complete falsehood. This must have been a dream had by Mr. Pollock that he somehow confused with reality. The facts are that other than rumors that had been floating around, the employees were not informed of any plans. In fact when they would come out ask what is going on, they were simply met with the answer “I don’t know” from the GM, because apparently Mr. Pollock was not telling anyone anything.

What a sad ending for ACME- because it had been a really great place. A community as others have said, that included the employees and the patrons. I will miss them. Of course it is Mr. Pollock’s prerogative to close ACME, but to proceed in the fashion that he has and then make up stories, mudsling and lay blame on his staff is just bad business and in very poor taste. I hope he is happier with his new ACME, and I hope for the sake of his future staff that he has learned something about treating people with respect.

Another Victim
Another Victim

Thing sad about this is, ANYONE who's EVER worked for that sleazeball can't be surprised at the way this went down. Bob's an asshole, we all knew it, but we kept coming back b/c everyone else who worked at and/or patronized acme was cool as could be. Bob and his "silent" partner (there was nothing "silent" about his dumb-as-a-stump brother) were looked at as a pain in the ass, a necessary evil, the Bad you had to take in order to get the Good. But it's true, they'd only come around once a month or so. But it usually resulted in a nitemare night: a waitress would get sexually harassed, an employee would get fired, a manager would get taken to the wooodshed b/c the place wasn't busy - whatever. These idiots were never happy, never supportive, alwasy found something to bitch about -- all the while disrupting the entire place.S you can probly tell, I worked at acme, too, for nearly six years, back in the day. I remember the night the entire floor staff walked out in protest of Bob's plan to fire Rudy the bartender - for whatever reason, this show of force changed Bob's mind. It's iomportant to note, however, that everyone who walked out was fired. That's how I got hired, anyway.Look the only reason Bob's even talking to the press is b/c of the public skewering he's getting on these blogs. He should more concerned that no one examines his books from the last 15 years, b/c there are plenty of problems to be dug up there.

I will miss acme.

DudeNoWay
DudeNoWay

What kind of a jerk feels like its a viable option to close a restaurant fully staffed by loyal employees without letting anyone know. Its hard enough living in NYC with a job, but if his waiters and staff are anything like the staff at my restaurant, we make pretty good money and still live paycheck to paycheck. I can't imagine going to work tomorrow and finding the doors locked and the place closed without warning. He mentions the upgrades that the restaurant needed, and is now getting, as the owner of the restaurant he should blame himself for letting his restaurant get into such disrepair that it needed to close.

poboygirl
poboygirl

I too was an employee of Acme for over 5 years. And I am one of many staffers who had been there for 5 plus years. The previous poster is eloquently correct that Acme was a family, a community and neighborhood gathering area. I worked the same Friday day shift for nearly the entire time I was employed there and on any given Friday I knew the regular order (and likely the name) of more than half of the people who walked through the door. They liked us and we were happy to have them, get to know them, and develop friendships beyond "what can I get you" Like any restaurant, there were issues, but the health code issues are not the entire fault of the staff and if the owner had been more involved and active, perhaps some of the issues that arose could have been dealt with in an appropriate and productive manner. Obviously, Mr. Pollock was going to do whatever he saw fit, but to say that talking to the staff was like fighting a union, that employees did not show up to work, and untruthfully calling us alcoholics is not only not true but horribly insulting to a group of people who keep the restaurant full of life while it was long ignored by its owner. Yes, what is done is done but my only wish is that Mr. Pollack had given both the staff and the loyal patrons of Acme the respect of forewarning so that they had a chance to get their business in order and maybe have one last fried shrimp poboy.

Sober One
Sober One

To Mr. Pollock, hopefully he catches wind of this message. However, if he does not I hope that Voice readers and those loyal to ACME will. I was the newest hire to the ACME team and only worked there for 8 months; up until it's sudden close on Tuesday March 15th. In those 8 months I never once spoke words to Mr. Pollock as he rarely showed his face in the establishment. When he did decide to grace us with his presence, him and his entourage of friends would disrupt service immensely. It didn't occur to him and his friends that standing in front of the kitchen door on a busy Friday night made our jobs harder. Or requesting large amounts of food to feed his friends also slowed down service. It was as if Mr. Pollock had given up on ACME way before the 15th of March. I know it would be hard to believe as the reader, from a former employee that we were not drunk, but the truth is we weren't. And for Mr. Pollock to say something like that adds insult to injury as he did not give us (the staff) any notice that the place was shutting down. He clearly did not take the staff into consideration at all. A simple two week notice, or even one week would of been nice. He also stated that we "didn't know what was happening" in there. Well Mr. Pollock never sat anyone down to tell us what was happening. Nonetheless, what's done is done and can't be undone. I hope those that read this understand that the staff at ACME is hurt by this as it was not just a job but a community. People did come in more than once a week to see us. We not only went for a paycheck but to see our loyal regulars who now have no where to go. Despite being out of work I do wish Mr. Pollock the best in his future en devours.

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