Why the CBGB Airport Restaurant is a ‘Horrible’ Idea

The famed NYC club’s name will be used for an airport eatery, and at least one punk rock O.G. just can’t stomach it.

CBGB was best known as the legendarily grungy rock club on New York City’s Lower East Side that introduced the world to the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, Blondie, and the Dead Boys during its late 1970s glory days. 

Besides groundbreaking music, the hallowed venue was also famous for its horrifying bathrooms, the stench of stale beer, and a scuzzy abundance of roaches, rats, mice, and the fragrant droppings left by owner Hilly Kristal’s incontinent dogs (at least in the early years). The perfect place to name an upscale restaurant after, right? 

Which is why when Gothamist reported yesterday that New Jersey’s Newark Airport would host a CBGB-branded eatery that serves $41 prime rib and seared togarishi tuna, the comically unappetizing plan was met with widespread ridicule.

After Kristal died in 2007, the most notable extensions of the CBGB brand were the original site being reborn as a rock and roll-themed John Varvatos store and last year’s critically-savaged CBGB movie

Now, punk rock nostalgists must reckon with a world in which the holding company who owns CBGB’s trademarks could start churning out club-branded airport feed mills alongside the likes of Panda Express and Au Bon Pain. 

“Handsome” Dick Manitoba, whose band The Dictators played CBGB dozens of times, tells Maxim that he won’t be dining there anytime soon. “As a business person I understand it,” says Manitoba, who owns a namesake bar in the East Village. “But as someone who was part of the fiber of CBGB’s, it’s a horrible idea.”

“It’s just so anti-creative. It’s like, ‘Let’s keep going back to the past and re-doing it, instead of doing something new.’ The essence of CBGB was Hilly Kristal, and when he died, it died. Everything else is just the name, and people trying to keep it alive. 

“Hilly must be turning over in his grave. I’m turning over in my grave and I’m not even dead yet…Hey, I ain’t gonna eat there.”

Us neither. At least until they put sniffable glue on the menu.