Punk Club Reopens as Airport Restaurant. Oy!

Filed under “stranger than fiction,” there are plans afoot to resuscitate CBGB, the iconic punk-rock club. As a restaurant. At Newark Airport. It’s so wrong, in so many ways.

Among rock music venues, few achieved the alt cachet of CBGBs. Over three decades, the notoriously funky Bowery club was a breeding ground for the likes of the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, and on and on. It was dirty and dark and loud and oh-so-cool.

While the club still looms large in the minds of nostalgic punk and new wave aficionados, it’s a vanishing memory at best. The final concert, featuring Patti Smith, was in October 2006, almost a decade ago.

Although its Hilly’s Chili was notorious for its you-don’t-want-to-know ingredients, CBGB was never about dining, fine or otherwise; it was all about the music, and about the lifestyle that music celebrated. Nevertheless, as first reported by Gothamist, there are plans afoot to resuscitate the CBGB name. As a restaurant. At Newark Airport.

The new CBGB L.A.B. (for Lounge and Bar) will have chili on the menu (Harold’s World Famous Chili, for $7.00), but no live music. No hipster throngs living better through chemistry. No cooler-than-thou attitude. In short, nothing that made CBGB CBGB.

On its face, it’s a laughably inept attempt to leverage what remains of a fading brand’s equity. It’s so wrong, in so many ways. But who knows: It might just be wildly successful. Stranger things have happened.

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.