After Winnie’s closed in 2015, generations of New Yorkers who had sung off-key renditions of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at the 28-year-old Chinatown karaoke dive were devastated. But the mourning period has come to an end: Thanks to a more sustainable rental agreement, Winnie’s reopened in a new space on East Broadway in February. There are shiny new red booths, a retro-looking standing microphone, and an updated computerized karaoke system (chandeliers pay tribute to the original’s beloved laser discs), but Winnie Mui still watches over the bar every night. We stopped by on a recent Saturday evening.
Kyle Schlining, 34, fashion logistics manager
What do you think of the fancy new microphone?
When I was singing “Un-Break My Heart,” it was nice to have something to hold during a ballad.
Nathanael Marshall, 28, musician in a Clash cover band
Did you sing a Clash song?
No, but I actually met someone. Her name is Ophelia, and she was singing a really obscure Clash song, “Lost in the Supermarket.” I thought, I gotta talk to this girl. It was a hoot. (As of press time, Nathanael and Ophelia are officially a couple.)
Lernard Grigsby, 30, back waiter
What brings you here?
We’re celebrating a friend’s birthday. I got up during Adele’s “Hello,” which someone had requested but didn’t show up to sing. The big microphone wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t hear myself.
Katlin Warmels, 30, operations manager, custom suiting manufacturer
What did you sing?
I didn’t sing, but my boyfriend sang some Elvis Presley song and I don’t think it went over very well with the crowd. It’s definitely songs from the ’90s and early 2000s. Music that millennials grew up with. There’s been a lot of, “Oh my God, remember this song?” … And then “Shallow.”
Michael Pfeiffer, 29, singer and guitarist with the Hell Yeah Babies
Had you been to the old Winnie’s?
Yes, and when you got to the front door, you felt like you were about to see the Orion Pictures logo. The whole thing was that it was old and cobbled together and it had these pieces of things from its history. Here, they’ve sanded off the edges of what I thought the charm of the old place was.
Winnie’s Bar, 58 E. Broadway, second fl.
*This article appears in the April 15, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!