West End Bar
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The West End, also known for a time as the "West End Gate", was located on Broadway near 114th Street in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of the Borough of Manhattan in New York City. From its establishment in 1911, the bar served as a popular gathering place for Columbia University students, faculty and administration (its slogan was "Where Columbia Had Its First Beer"). The bar was also a meeting place for many Beat Generation writers as well as many 1960's student activists when they attended the university.
In the early 1940s, in the formative days of the Beat Generation, students including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lucien Carr spent hours at the bar discussing their studies and their futures. In the 1960s, the bar was host to student activists upset about racial discrimination in the area and US foreign policy regarding Vietnam. Mark Rudd, who led the Columbia branch of Students for a Democratic Society and was a prominent member of the Weather Underground after his expulsion from the university in 1968, spent time at the bar while a student.
After closing for a year and a half, it was leased from Columbia University by a group led by Jeff Spiegel and his wife Katie Gardner, a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism. They renovated The West End, making an effort to have it look like everyone thought it might have looked as an old Victorian era bar/restaurant. They expanded one room for catering, parties and evenbeer pong, a basement room for live Jazz, and a large side dining room that could be used late night, after the kitchen was closed, by drinkers and revelers. The West End was popular with students, Columbia faculty and staff. For four years from 1990-1994, Jazz historian, Phil Schaap, continued to run the jazz program featuring giants of Jazz from the swing era including on its opening night, Buddy Tate and Branford Marsalis. The jazz program was later discontinued as a nightly feature. Phil Schaap started the jazz program when he was an undergraduate at Columbia in the 1970s.
In 2004, The West End began brewing its own beers including its very popular, nearly 10% "Ker O'Whack", named for Columbia graduate and author, Jack Kerouac. The West End in 1990 also became a full service restaurant, including a widely popular Sunday brunch. It installed flat screen monitors for sports events. Playboy Magazine featured The West End as "College Bar of the Month" in its February 2005 issue.
The West End qua West End was sold in April 2006 and was replaced in late 2006 by "Havana Central at the West End", part of the expanding "Havana Central" chain of Cuban restaurants.
- Columbia Spectator piece announcing sale and transformation of the West End into a Cuban restaurant
- Columbia Spectator piece describing plans for Havana Central at the West End
- Columbia Spectator piece on closing of the West End, with a bit of history
- Columbia Spectator piece of reminiscences of the West End
- Bwog post announcing the new tenant
- William T. Lawlor (2005). Beat Culture: Lifestyles, Icons, and Impact. ABC-CLIO. pp. 119, 225. ISBN 978-1851094004.