“Arlenes is a longstanding showcase venue that embraces young artists as well as touring and established bands. The original three owners of Arlene’s Grocery: Dermot Burke, Tony Caffrey, and Shane Doyle, ventured into the ‘wild, wild west’ of the Lower East Side in the mid-’90s, before any other music venue dared. Crime and drugs burdened the LES, yet they believed, risks aside, that the neighborhood would become New York City’s next hip area—and the gamble paid off. Other venues followed Arlene’s lead and the LES birthed a flourishing art and music scene.
The three owners converted the prior business, a bodega called Arlene Grocery, into a live music venue, keeping the store’s original exterior tropical-themed murals and name. Only recently were the designs modified and an ‘apostrophe-s’ added to grammatically correct the venue’s name, although newcomers still mistake Arlene’s for a grocery store.
On Arlene’s historic opening night, 30 people gathered to see poet Allen Ginsberg backed by Lenny K on guitar. The new venue functioned with sparse resources for several months; the sound system was problematic and the sound board lived onstage, a less-than-optimal place for sound control. Busboy and eventual booker[…]”