The self-proclaimed “world’s first steampunk bar” is caught in a dystopian bureaucratic maw right out of the Clifford Simak sci-fi classic with which it shares a name.
Way Station, which hopes to open as a live-music venue on booming Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, remains without a liquor license, waylaid in a Byzantine administrative limbo by a notoriously circuitous permit process.
“It’s Kafka meets Catch 22,” owner Andy Heidel (pictured) said, describing his six-month, one-problem-leads-to-another adventure to gain the appropriate building and liquor approvals.
“Fortunately, I haven’t woken up as a giant cockroach … yet.”
For now, the bar hosts one-off events, for which it gets a one-night liquor license — such as Thursday night’s raucous New Year’s Eve bash and fundraiser. But that’s the best Heidel can do until he gets a full liquor license, which is now expected by March. A contingency plan to open without booze (Heidel planned to serve “mocktails”) was kiboshed by the bands, most of whom didn’t think patrons would show up at a concert in a dry hall.
But that would be a mistake, as Way Station’s survival is crucial to the neighborhood. Aside from being the first live venue on this rejuvenated section of Washington Avenue, the bar would become the only true gigspace in Prospect Heights if Freddy’s Bar and Backroom is demolished to make room for the Atlantic Yards project, an increasingly likely scenario.
Heidel, a former science fiction book publicist, is seeking help to survive what will be the bar’s booze-less period, which could last three months. He’s got to start paying rent, as saved up funds have been spent.
Way Station (683 Washington Ave. between Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights). New Year’s Eve party featuring the funk, pop, disco stylings of Discovery (with booze), Dec. 31 at 8 pm. No cover.