Heidi’s House by the Side of the Road is owned by Heidi Goar and Ed Webster. The couple opened this small, neighborhood bar in 2011, in part because there were so few places in the area where they could enjoy drink, good food, and the conversation and company of other people without the glare of a wide-screen TV. Since then, with the magnificent talents of chef Cipriano Pita and staff, Heidi’s House has served delicious food, craft and imported beer and cider, and a nice selection of wines. It remains an unusual spot on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
By design, there is no television to distract from lively conversation, but Ed has created a sophisticated jazz mix that fills the small space with quiet pleasure. Neighborhood regulars meet their friends here, or make new ones, and the atmosphere is always warm and friendly.
The name of the bar comes from an old popular poem by Samuel Walter Foss, “House by the Side of the Road,” in which he claims he will not live the unhappy lives others do. Instead, he says, “Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” The poem, written in 1898, was very popular during the Great Depression and appeared in cross stitch patterns for pillows and wall hangings (there’s one in the bathroom at Heidi’s House). Heidi’s maternal grandparents owned a bar in rural Wisconsin, Wanless Rustic Lodge, from the 1940s to the 1980s. Her grandfather, David Wanless, was a very generous and very charismatic man; on his gravestone is this phrase from Foss’ poem.
Because Heidi’s House is so small, the food is so good, and the atmosphere so inviting, the place is generally very busy. Therefore, Ed and Heidi have built a bar right next door, called Ed’s Elbow Room (NOW OPEN!), where one can have a drink while waiting for a table at Heidi’s House. Ed’s is serving beer, wine, and cider, offers games to play, and is a television-free, jazz-infused zone.