The bar that’s replacing singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw’s National Underground won’t have live music, but it’ll have some pop-star cred of its own: Rob Ackroyd, the guitarist from Florence + The Machine, will be a shareholder in The Late Late Bar & Spirit Grocer when it opens on Houston Street in June.
The bar is named after The Late Late Show, a progressive talk show that ran afoul of Ireland’s Catholic Church, and it’s modeled after an upscale Irish residence from the ’60s, when the show debuted. Both the first floor and the basement will have their own bars and DJs. And Ackroyd, the musical director, will curate monthly playlists.
The Late Late’s owner, James Morrissey, insists it won’t be a stereotypical “Irish” pub, complete with “a shamrock over the door, a tricolor flag on the outside… and pictures of the owner with previous Irish presidents” — “What we’re trying to create is a venue which is a lot more subtle in terms of its Irish ingredients,” says the 27-year-old Dubliner.
At entry level, there will be small drink tables and a communal table for 16, plus mahogany and velvet booths, throwback wallpaper, antique light fixtures, 10 local beer taps hung over white ceramic Belfast sinks, and a statue of the Virgin Mary in the corner (“playing on that Catholic Ireland influence of the 1960s”). A black-and-white TV will broadcast a live feed from Oliver’s, a bar in the coastal town where Morrissey vacationed growing up. In addition, a fully functional grocery store will stock Irish and British soft drinks, coffees, teas, candy, oatmeal, snacks and condiments.
Downstairs will be decorated with chaise lounge chairs, as well as oil paintings Morrissey has commissioned from 10 different artists in Ireland, portraying well-known personalities like Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, Gabriel Byrne, Sinead O’Connor, and boxing gold medalist Katie Taylor.
The Late Late will also serve eight tapas-style shared plates from a not-yet-finalized menu. Expect gourmet battered sausage, black pudding with apple sauce, a Brussels sprout and fresh ham skillet, and other deviations from the city’s usual Irish pub fare. Sorry, no buffalo wings. Said Morrissey, “Buffalo sauce didn’t even exist in Ireland until five years ago.”
The Late Late Bar & Spirit Grocer, 159 East Houston Street, bet. Eldridge and Allen Sts.