Back in 2014, Hoboken seemed on the verge of losing something irreplaceable: Maxwell’s, the legendary bar and restaurant where so much modern music history has taken place. It wasn’t the first time the bar had been “reinvented” or seemed on the verge of losing its iconic stature in town; if you lived in Hoboken during the 1990s, you might recall a dubious period when Maxwell’s was a brew pub—though those memories are probably best lost. In 2014, though, it seemed like we were facing not a re-imagining of the place, but rather a total loss.
Then Evan Dean and Pete Carr stepped up and bought the bar, and everything seemed right again—sure, they pivoted the menu and the dining area towards craft pizza, but they more than made up for that by not just maintaining the slate of live music, but actively curating shows and events that at least harkened back to the heyday of Maxwell’s as the place to check out live music in Hoboken. Plus, they expanded the tap beer offerings and ran a pretty tight ship overall. And Hoboken sighed a sigh of relief, secure in knowing one of out most iconic spots would remain.
For Sale by Owners
Unfortunately, our confidence was misplaced; per this article on Billboard.com Carr and Dean have put Maxwell’s up for sale for $1.3 million (Note: We haven’t been able to verify the sale listing yet). The good news? The listing stresses the unique presence Maxwell’s has and the value of its state-of-the-art sound system and performance area, not to mention the beer taps. While there’s no guarantee that an interested buyer will be interested in continuing the Maxwell’s tradition of live music, at least that’s how the sale is being pitched.
Maxwell’s, of course, is a prime spot for a bar/restaurant in Hoboken, with a primo corner location and a big space (3,600 square feet)—not to mention an invaluable type-33 liquor license. It’s not inconceivable that someone would buy the place just for those attributes and not want to bother with the hectic and labor-intensive process of booking bands. So we all have to once again brace ourselves for the possibility that Maxwell’s as we’ve known it since 1978 when Steve Fallon opened its doors might cease to exist.
Not Another Pasta Place
The thing is, Hoboken doesn’t need another restaurant, or another bar. We don’t need more Realtors, cell phone stores, or places to buy bubble tea. And while it could be argued that we don’t need a club-like space for live bands, having a venue like Maxwell’s adds more to the spirit and tone of Hoboken’s nightlife than any sort of eatery would. While other bars offer live music and even bands—Northern Soul is a great example—they’re not dedicated performance spaces like Maxwell’s, and they lack the history that imbues that place. Anyone who’s been crammed into that small back room, screaming with a beer in their hand while a band blows them away will know it’s not an experience you can find anywhere else in Hoboken.
Let’s hope whoever buys it keeps up that tradition—and keeps the thirty beer taps flowing.