Fontana’s closed in 2016.
Fontana’s is located on 105 Eldridge Street, Manhattan, between Grand and Broome Streets. It lays a block and a half south of Delancey Street, the southern border of the ‘Bowery Circle’ of venues, including Arlene’s Grocery, The Cake Shop, The Living Room, Mercury Lounge, Piano’s and Bowery Ballroom (which is the closest, only a couple of blocks west on Delancey).
Like Cake Shop or (to the north of Bowery) the late Rehab, the actual venue at Fontana’s is downstairs; upstairs is a long, somewhat narrow bar that ends in a large back area (including pool table), forming a sort of ‘T’ shape. The stairs down are to the right, past the pool table & the man at the door. The venue area itself also forms a ‘T’, the stairs coming out, after a landing, at the bottom of the ‘T’. The small bar is there, underneath the stairs, with a cushioned bench lining the rest of the bottom of the ‘T’. The stage itself is in the middle of the upper area, only a foot or two off the ground, with the sound system to the right, and the bathrooms up some stairs to the left. Though there are some stools to the house-left of the stage, the whole set up creates something of a bottleneck in front of the band, leaving some farther back than they might wish to be, and creating a tight squeeze for those attempting to go through it to get drinks or go to the bathroom.
Outside of the ‘Bowery Circle’ of venues, Fontana’s is not a regular haunt for alternative acts, but is also not a ‘CMJ only’-style venue (i.e., one that only holds indie shows worth seeing during CMJ), like the nearby The Delancey. While the upstairs bar is relatively nice, the downstairs venue is more on the lines of Bowery low-end places like Cake Shop or Arlene’s Grocery, with a poor sound & light system, but so are the ticket and drink prices (though shows do start there relatively early, with karaoke afterwards). One would advise acts not to book the place, but it’s not that far off the beaten path.
105 Eldridge Street (Between Grand and Broome Streets)
B or D trains to Grand Street – walk 2 block east on North side of Grand, turn left on West side of Eldridge
J train to Bowery – walk 3 blocks east on South side of Delancey, 1 & 1/2 blocks south on West side of Eldridge
F, J, M or Z trains to Essex St.-Delancey St. – walk 4 blocks west on South side of Delancey, 1 & 1/2 blocks south on West side of Eldridge
-Illinois, February 4th, 2009 – photos