Not far from Grand Central Station in Midtown East, Uncle Charlie’s is in a part of town known more for its office buildings than its nightlife. That has worked in the piano bar and lounge’s favor: In its six years it has become a hugely popular after-work spot among the area’s flourishing gay white-collar scene. A packed happy hour and captivating entertainment keep the guys around all night long.
Located on the second floor of an otherwise indiscriminate Midtown building, Uncle Charlie’s is a comfortable venue that is welcoming to first-timers and regulars alike. From the spacious bar to the piano lounge to the outdoor garden (where else in Midtown has an outdoor garden space?), it is the perfect place to unwind with a few cocktails and socialize. The casual, down-to-earth bartenders and waiters contribute to a refreshing atmosphere.
But Uncle Charlie’s is all about entertainment. Frequented by the area’s Broadway performers and their fans, regular open mic nights often turn into Tony Award-worthy performances. The highlight of Uncle Charlie’s surrounds the grand piano at the heart of the piano lounge, where nightly pianists keep the crowds entertained with cabaret-style tunes. William TN Hall, who has amassed fans from around the city, is a hit on Saturday nights, when he features his high-energy renditions of everyone’s favorite showtunes. Every Sunday night sees a rotating lineup of Gomination artists with their Broadway Showcase. And nobody who’s anybody misses Will Clark’s famous Porno Bingo on Wednesday nights, with a unique blend of porn stars and entertainment and bingo – all hosted by the one-and-only Will Clark himself for the benefit of a different charity each week. Check the Uncle Charlie’s website for the full lineup of weekly and special events.
Voted “New York City’s #1 Piano Bar” by Get Out! magazine, join in the fun on Saturday, May 18, when Uncle Charlie’s celebrates its sixth anniversary with a free buffet and special anniversary drink specials all night long.
We spoke to Michael Ng, owner of Uncle Charlie’s, about the past six years and what’s on the horizon for UC.
What makes Uncle Charlie’s unique in New York City?
Uncle Charlie’s is more of a piano bar, where everyone knows each other. We’re a very comfortable place to stay. Yet you never feel alone – when a stranger comes in, people talk to you. It’s a friendly place.
Why has Uncle Charlie’s been so successful over the years?
The bartenders are very friendly, and the people are very likeable here. People keep coming back, and the place keeps going. There are lots of regulars that keep coming back. We’re also near Grand Central, so people stop in on their way home and have a drink after work.
What has been the highlight of the last six years at UC?
The first opening day was very busy. It was pouring rain that day, the grand opening of Uncle Charlie’s. We didn’t even have enough room for all the people; it was packed. People had to wait on the stairs – one person out, one person in. Every day since then has been great.
Why should people come to the sixth anniversary party?
It’s been six years for us. For most businesses that is a big deal; it’s very tough, especially in this economy. But it is working for us. We keep the people here, and they continue coming in and meeting new friends and becoming part of the Uncle Charlie’s family. I hope everyone will celebrate that with us, whether they have been here since day one or if they’re a first timer. Everyone is part of our family.
139 E. 45th Street (btw. 3rd Ave. & Lexington), 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10017