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).

Recent Stories

Unprovoked Stabbing on Worth Street has Chinatown on Edge

In an apparently random attack yesterday evening, a 36-year-old Chinese man was stabbed in the back, and severely injured, by Brooklyn resident Salman Muflihi. The attacker wielded an eight-inch knife in the incident outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse on Worth Street, then surrendered at the entrance of the Manhattan DA’s office on Hogan Place. […]

Uncapped: In Conversation with Clayton Patterson and Cochise

Oh hey, Boogie Faithful, it’s your favorite historian here announcing our new graf-related podcast. We’ve done a few episodes, literally, and for the latest, Clayton Patterson has come out of his Boogie corner. We chatted, we laughed, we discussed some esoteric, anecdotal and priceless Lower East Side history. Local native and artist Jose “Cochise” Quiles also […]

Jing Fong Waiters Urge Landlord to Reinstate Dining Room

Chinatown shook to its core last weekend upon news that Jing Fong is closing down its massive dining room next week (March 7). The restaurant will continue operating as a ghost kitchen to fulfill orders for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining on its patio. They’re reportedly on a month-to-month lease. “With our drastic decline in […]

Small Business Owners ‘Permanently Close’ to Demand COVID Relief

Local small business groups, along with the Cooper Square Committee, East Village Community Coalition, and Village Preservation are hosting a rally today in the name of economic survival. It’s part of a statewide week of activism to find commercial rent relief in the city. With that, businesses who fear forever closure due to rent burdens […]

Fired Laundry Workers Accuse Liox Cleaners of ‘Union Busting’

The Liox Cleaners chain is facing a raft of opposition in the wake of alleged “union busting.” Tuesday afternoon saw the first of two picketing actions outside the Allen Street location, just north of Delancey. According to the distributed literature, “On February 19, the Liox laundry chain fired the immigrant woman workers of the Wash […]