After 17 years as a watering hole, gallery, and open mic venue, happy hours are now a little less happy now that LITM, a downtown Jersey City bar and restaurant, has closed.
LITM stands for Love Is The Message.
LITM, at 140 Newark Ave., was a downtown institution before the Newark Pedestrian Plaza existed and was the first bar to open along the strip before downtown Jersey City became the place to be on weekends.
It became a hub for the local art scene where artists would congregate over a cocktail or $4 Full Sail Session Lager. It showcased local talent with paintings, photography, and other works of art as part of a monthly rotating gallery.
It was also a venue for open mic nights, live performances, poetry slams, comedy shows, and popup kitchens.
Staying true to its name, it was also a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community, hosting events like “Lez Fest,” a lesbian and bisexual women’s event; Pride karaoke night; and a “That’s So Gay!” art opening reception.
“Since 2003, LITM has been a neighborhood destination for individuals to connect and build community,” said owner and founder Jelynne Jardiniano Morse on Facebook. “For many, it became their home away from home. I have been fortunate to know most of you and to see so many of your stories unfold. After seventeen years, the LITM story has come to an end.”
“LITM stands for love is the message,” she ended. “Thank you for believing in it from day one.”
Social media mourns
Fans of the bar lamented on social media once news of its closing broke.
“So sorry to hear this news. LITM was living proof that Jersey City still had soul,” said Denise de la Cerda. “A great loss to JC.”
“LITM will truly be missed!” wrote Neelima Sapre. “Thank you for supporting and shining the spotlight on Jersey City artists for as long as you have, and in such a welcoming, unassuming way.”
“You were pioneers in the neighborhood, community and city,” said Mike Francisco. “Thank you for everything.”
“I moved from Jersey City in 2010, but I was certainly one of the many calling LITM a home away from home for the several years prior,” said Jennifer Herr. “LITM was a clubhouse for our rapidly changing community – you employed my local childhood friends, gave others the opportunity to exhibit their art, and brought us together with wonderful creative events every week … a wonderful establishment that will be sorely missed. Truly the end of an era in DTJC.”
Former CEO of the Hudson Pride Center, Michael Billy, posted that LITM helped make the city special.
“For so many years LITM held space for the people and relationships that make our city so god damn special,” he said. “A place for emerging artists to feel uplifted and appreciated. A home for our LGBTQ+ community when we had nowhere else to go to feel safe, loved, and celebrated. LITM was so much more than a bar, it was what our community needed to help us grow. It strengthened us and brought us together. After rallies for a common cause, after vigils for friends and neighbors, their message of love and inclusivity gave us a home to share together.”
The SID Grove Facebook page said that LITM was one of the best members of the Special Improvement District, noting it was one of the first businesses that “truly transformed Newark Avenue.”
According to Morse, there will be a farewell party, but it won’t take place at LITM due to “time constraints.” Details on the closing party will be released in the coming weeks.