1/25/2013 01:44:00 PM

Coyote Ugly Celebrates 20 Years of Dancing on the Bar

Coyote Ugly, The Original
When a bartender first climbed up on the bar at the East Village's Coyote Ugly, we're guessing that no one could predict that the establishment would make it to 20 years, nevertheless turn into a cultural brand. Well, doubters have officially been proven wrong, because the divey den turns 20 this weekend. Owner Liliana Lovell opened the establishment on January 27, 1993 and a lot of boot stomping and Bud slinging have gone down since then.

On a recent Sunday night at the renowned East Village watering hole, the bartenders danced, and plenty of female patrons danced with them. Oh, and there was a shirtless man getting spanked by a belt (which he seemed to like that a little too much, but we're not here to judge). In twenty years only the music has changed slightly (or hasn’t as fans of the 80s will be relieved to hear Pour Some Sugar On Me continues to be a top choice ). Oh, and the worldwide domination is a little different since '93. With thirteen locations throughout the United States with International outfits in Germany, Russia, and Romania, the little bar on First Avenue where bras and bros finally learned to coexist with one another has become a worldwide brand name with a movie, reality television series, and clothing line all under its belt. Though with the way this place uses belts, we’re not entirely sure what that’s saying.

Regarding Coyote’s success, while some opinions vary - (umm because people need to rage every now and then?), the one thing that is consistent is that regulars have helped carry the bar through trends and recessions.

“I would say we have the best regulars in the world,” noted Tahnee Morris, GM of the original New York location.

Lee Killingsworth, a partner in the company, emphasized that customers who’ve come in time and time again are allowed to “come as you are”. No strict dress code. No hour waits for a VIP table and bottle. “A breath of fresh air” he noted regarding his experience working to help promote and expand the features that make Coyote Ugly a classic destination point.

Speaking of the regulars and those amateur Dancing with the Stars candidates visiting for the first time, Coyote Ugly’s clientel on our visit represented everyone and anyone. Some had seen the movie and wanted to see for themselves how true to life Piper Perabo and Maria Bello embodied the role of real life female bartenders. Others rolled up in SUV stretch limos, looking to celebrate bachelorette parties. One patron even pulled up a seat to the bar to have a drink while texting, evoking the image that maybe Coyote is the only place in this crazy world a guy can relax.

And while regulars are indeed crucial to any business’s success, it’s clear that that search for the bartender that looks good singing, dancing, and assisting customers in chugging a cold beer when called upon is a vital part of the operation. Beginning with Lovell, the owner reports that the bar’s process of finding and assessing talent has been a large part of its continued success. In speaking with Killingsworth and watching the girls deal with a hoard of thirsty customers on a packed Saturday night, it's clear that aspiring Coyotes don't just need to have their W-2 forms in order. The company warns "the weak at heart need not apply" and potential candidates should take the advices seriously.

The bar will host it’s 20th birthday party on Saturday January 26th with doors open to the public at 4 PM. Not saying you'll want to end up on Lovell's list of talented tenders once the music starts, but surely you'll join them for a dance?


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