I honestly can't remember the last time I set foot in Fanelli's. Actually, that's not true. The last time I set foot in there, I was summarily asked never to return (and I've since obliged said request). I was with a gaggle of friends there in the mid-1990s that turned into a slightly unwieldy group. As our numbers swelled, we asked for an extra chair in the front to facilitate a late arrival. Not only was said request denied, but the waitress basically told us we were blocking the front door and instructed us to fuck right off. Fair enough, although it's not like we were lighting firecrackers off and dropping our pants or anything. So, we left and went to Milady's instead.
Regardless, Fanelli's remains a Soho institution. It's become as storied a landmark as fellow downtown public houses as The Ear Inn to the West and McSorley's to the East. It makes cameos in Manhattan-centric film's like Amos Poe's "The Foreigner" and Phil Joanou's "State of Grace." It was picked to visually represent old downtown on a 1989 cover of New York Magazine. Even now, the place still exudes all the cool cache of a relaxed corner bar, despite the fact that its surrounding neighborhood has long-since transformed from a bohemian backwater into a roiling hotbed of commerce.
I found the above picture randomly on Flickr and completely adore it (despite my hurt feelings from being unceremoniously asked to leave the bar all those years back). Looking more like a snapshot of an idealized Paris, the above photo (taken in 1982 by one Dizzy Atmosphere) depicts Soho when it was still sleepily rough-around-the-edges. I love how the opposite corner's walls are covered in flyers and bills. Today, of course, that corner looks very different, being that it plays host to the noxiously exclusive Mercer Hotel. There's nothing sleepy about this neighborhood today.
I doubt I'll be returning to Fanelli's any time soon, although that has less to do with any grudge and more to do with the fact that, as a married father of two, my time spent in bars has decreased rather sizably. In fact, I usually stay as far as way from Soho as possible, being that it's basically now just a giant shopping mall (which I've lamented several times before). If ever I'm pining for the Soho of old, though, perhaps I'll just return to this picture.