When people say, “It has a downtown vibe,” about an establishment that’s not downtown, it’s always supposed to be a compliment. When my favorite place on the Upper East Side was still relatively unknown, that’s what my friends and I would say all the time, that it felt like a bar downtown. (We still say that, but now so does everybody else as it’s no longer such a secret.)
It’s the same thing with The Penrose. It’s a place that doesn’t feel like it belongs among the frat bars and no-end-in-sight construction of the neighborhood. First of all, it’s huge. Second of all, it’s huge. Third of all, it seems to draw a slightly older crowd (though I still saw some people who looked like they were 15, and I saw some others dressed as if they were clubbing).
Hopefully, the fact that the bar is hidden behind the “we’re still open” announcements that line 2nd Ave. (and will probably continue to line it until around 2019 when the MTA finally admits the whole 2nd Avenue subway plan was really just a front for an underground–and above-ground–Destruction Company-type catharsis for construction workers) won’t hurt its survival in a land of continually closing businesses. So far, from the crowd and hype, I’d say chances are good that it won’t be a problem.
But then, I’d also say you shouldn’t be allowed to enter The Penrose if you’re wearing an outfit that belongs in the Meatpacking District, so clearly my authority on these matters is not absolute.