If Mom Only Knew Opens on Manhattan’s Lower East SideDecember 22, 2011 By: Sean Evans
Behind a nondescript façade on Eldridge Street lays If Mom Only Knew, a hybrid lounge-bar. It has nearly the same layout as its prior incarnation, The Eldridge, only the DJ booth was moved to the back of the 900-square-foot room. The exposed brick walls didn’t change either, giving the room the gritty and rustic feel a patron has come to appreciate from favored Lower East Side haunts. The most marked differences are the lack of pretention — customers from all walks of life intermingle happily at IMoK — and the significantly lowered drink prices.
"We don’t take ourselves so seriously,” explains Marcus Bifaro, the owner of the venue. “We’re not about bottle service, celebrities and being elite. We want everyone from old-school hip-hop fans to serious cocktail aficionados. We just want to create a fun time for people where they can let loose and be themselves.”
It’s a vibe that was nailed for the space’s opening bash as friends and family alike mixed about the intimate space.
“It’s ironic, because a lot of these people had a very influential part in creating this place,” Bifaro says, nodding around. He continues, pointing out the crew of his friends who helped reupholster every piece of furniture in the room, to another set — The Peter Pan Posse — who artistically layered the back wall with their graffiti tags and to another fellow who helped him hang the retro lighting fixtures and chandelier. “We did it all ourselves within one month,” he adds. Did it all? “We completely redid the entire space in 30 days. From the ground up.”
Look around the room, and you’d never know it. As the mirror-dipped glass bulbs dimly illuminate the establishment, it’s noticeable that the reclaimed wooden beams on the walls and underneath the bar are perfectly fitted, and even the artwork flows with the ethos of the space. “I found a guy on Facebook who does graffiti art from recycled graffiti supplies, like that one,” Bifaro points out, motioning to a Darth Vader mask with two tubes connected to spray paint cans.
The mask rests on a shelf just above Gio Padin, the mixologist for the evening, according to the announcement on the chalkboard across from the bar. The blackboard also features all of Padin’s signature cocktails; ones he’s honed from years of pouring at GoldBar and Surf Lodge (where he met Bifaro when they both worked there during the summer). While the roster of drinks will change weekly (the opening night’s libations included the Blackberry Bourbon Smash, Spicy Senorita and Pied Pumpkin), the level of care going into each glass will remain the same.
“We’ll have a rotation of mixologists who’ll serve their own creations,” Bifaro says, “but we have homemade mixers, syrups and culinary flourishes that will always be available for them to create their drinks with.” Add in Kold Draft ice, and the price of $14 per drink seems shockingly low, especially given what the rest of NYC is charging for handcrafted cocktails. “People are broke. This is a recession. If you watch your overhead and operate correctly, there’s no reason you can’t give them quality in a glass for under $15,” Bifaro surmises.
As for the people filling the room, which legally houses 74 patrons, Bifaro realizes he won’t have to do much work to get it packed. “There are a ton of great neighborhood folks, and our staff will do some word-of-mouth advertising to their friends. It should fill itself easily without resorting to using promoters,” he says.