COVID Has Taken Fineline Tattoo, a Lower East Side Institution

Posted on: October 23rd, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Oh, COVID/2020, you’re an evil bitch.

Come Monday, you will no longer be able to walk into Fineline Tattoo shop. But the owner and legacy keeper, Mehai Bakaty, wants you to know:

We are not closing, we are moving. LES STRONG.  We will be going back to a private studio next door. Appointment only. Rest assured we are not leaving the Lower East Side.

Fineline is considered the longest continuously operated shop in the city at 44 years. Mehai’s father was a legend. During the height of the tattoo ban in 1976, Mike Bakaty founded Fineline Tattoo and began inking customers in his Bowery loft at McGurk’s Suicide Hall, where he lived with his sons. The elder Bakaty operated on the underground circuit for 21 years until 1997 – in secret back rooms and loft apartments – until the prohibition concluded. That was the year Fineline went legit with a store at 21 First Avenue. Mehai eventually took over the family business in 2014 after the death of his father at age 77 from cancer.

It’s a relief to see that the legacy lives on, even if in a reduced capacity. Here’s to the memories at 21 1st Avenue, indelible and irreplaceable. (All pictures taken Allison Siegel over the past 10 years).

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