I had the pleasure of speaking with the owner of Uncle Charlie’s Bar, Michael Ng, one of the most pleasant people I have ever interviewed. He gave us the heads up about the upcoming holiday party traditions for this season, as well as a brief synopsis of what happens there throughout the week.
Michael, how long have you owned Uncle Charlie’s Bar?
I have owned it about eight years now. Time flies. It is at 139 East 45th Street, between Lexington and 3rd.
Do you have Christmas planned as well?
[On] Christmas we also do the same thing. On Christmas day we have food—mostly our regulars come in. Every holiday we always have a big party. We open later too on Thanksgiving day and Christmas day, from 6 o’clock until closing. The people have a big party with their family, but by the time 5 or 6 o’clock comes, they are thinking of going out.
Yeah, by then you’re usually sick of the family.
Maybe the family is too loud, too crazy, and people want to come out by then and have a drink.
Weekly, what goes on at Uncle Charlie’s?
On a weekly basis we have cocktail hour from 4 to 9 o’clock, every day, and we have drink specials. After 9 o’clock we have drink specials, and we have two-for-ones on a special drink. The bartender always creates drinks for people that come in, and has a drink with them.
Do you have a DJ?
We don’t have one regularly, but every Friday we have DJ Tom coming in to play music. Sometimes he comes on Thursday to play music. People can request a song, and if he doesn’t have it, he will download it. It’s a very good atmosphere, a lot of mingling with people. Every day we have piano music here as well. Each day we have different pianists.
What type of crowd comes to the bar?
We get the after-work crowd: people in the neighborhood, people working in the area. Happy hour is very busy, and then later in the night, we get the theatre crowd. After 9:30, 10 o’clock, the whole crowd changes. We get people from the theatre, especially after 11 o’clock when the shows finish. They come over and have a drink and sing with the piano. We get a lot of show-business people here. It’s so close to the theaters.
I heard a lot of good things about the bar. I understand it’s a very friendly bar.
Are you going to come?
I am, and I’ll look for you.
If I’m not there, look for Manny, my manager. He takes care of everybody. We have been friends for a long time.
What do you like best about owning the bar?
There is always something new every day. You talk with people, and that’s nice. All of the bartenders are very nice. If you come in once they remember you. Maybe not your name, but definitely your drink. They have been in the business a long time. Every detail they know. If you are from out of town, for example, they direct you were to go, what to see.
If you could promote anything at all what, would it be?
I would say that this is a really friendly bar. Everybody is welcome. There is no attitude, and when you come in we make you feel welcome, especially a stranger in the town. The bartender will show you around.
Are you going to have a big New Year’s Eve party?
Yes. Every year we do the same thing too. We have food late at night for people who have gone out. We are so close to Times Square. The people come and walk over here after Times Square, and it’s a big party.
139 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017