The long-standing Candle Bar at 309 Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side will shut its doors at the end of the month as reported by Emily Frost for DNAinfo.
The premises has existed as a gay bar since 1958 when it was opened by George Fluss; however, it was a short run for Fluss. He lost his liquor license in 1959 for permitting "homosexual activities" on the premises according to New York State Liquor Authority records. Fluss went on to work at other gay bars and restaurants in the early 1960s including at the Pines & Dunes Yacht Club on Fire Island and the Coat of Arms at 140 East 53rd Street.
Ralph Pansini took over the 309 Amsterdam Avenue space in 1960 under the name Candlelight Lounge, and continued to operate it as a gay bar. Pansini wore a wire for New York District Attorney Frank Hogan's investigation into corruption at the State Liquor Authority. The investigation brought down SLA head Martin Epstein and agency fixer Hyman Siegel who specialized in licensing cases. Siegel inherited his law practice from Louis Lefkowitz who in 1957 had become New York's Attorney General. Al Scotti, then head of the DA's Rackets Bureau, reportedly said that he also had a solid case against Lefkowitz: "I had Lefkowitz in the palm of my hand, but the statute of limitations ran out." The SLA scandal was a black eye for Governor Nelson Rockefeller who appointed Epstein to the SLA and counted Lefkowitz as his closest advisor. Governor Nelson infamously declared in September 1970 that he didn't know anything about the role of the Mafia in gay bars.
Suspected Genovese associate Jennie Tobin at one point allegedly had an interest in the Candle Bar at 309 Amsterdam Avenue. According to court documents, the State Liquor Authority revoked the liquor license for the Candle Bar in 1978 because the disclosed principals, Jean A. Sabathe and Helen Linsalto, "were charged with not being the true and/or sole parties in interest in said premises, but that William Elmer 'Sonny' Tobin, Jennie Endicott [a/k/a Jennie Tobin], his wife, . . . also have an interest therein." Sonny was whacked in 1978 before Jennie's eyes in their Queens home.
In 1980 Robert E. Ader, a gay attorney, took over the Candle Bar. Curiously, Ader had a previous relationship with the Tobin family going back to at least 1975. Ader died of AIDS in the early 1990s, and apparently his sister Michelle Ader since has operated the premises. There is no allegation that either Ader were involved in any wrongdoing or had any mob involvement.