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Seminal Cocktail Speakeasy PDT Ousts Revered Founder Jim Meehan

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A new owner says Meehan, who now lives in Portland, is no longer needed

American Express Centurion Lounge Party At 2014 Food & Wine Classic In Aspen Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for American Express

Jim Meehan, a major player in the craft-cocktail revival of the 2000s, is “no longer involved” at the influential speakeasy-style bar Please Don’t Tell (PDT) he co-founded, the Times reports.

Meehan helped create PDT in a hidden space alongside Crif Dogs in the East Village 12 years ago — drinkers must duck into the bar through a phone booth inside the hot dog shop. It’s often cited as the progenitor of the modern speakeasy craze.

Now, PDT general manager Jeff Bell is buying the bar and Crif Dogs from current owner Brian Shebairo. Bell, a nine-year veteran of PDT, tells the Times that Shebairo (who didn’t comment) is behind the decision to part with Meehan: Meehan now lives in Portland, Oregon, and has done so since 2014. Having him on the bar’s payroll isn’t necessary, or even tenable, investors reportedly said. Per the Times,

“There are two people doing the same thing,” Mr. Bell said. “But one lives in New York and one lives in Portland. You don’t need two operating partners that live in two different cities.”

Meehan’s departure bookends an era in recent cocktail history: He’s very closely associated with PDT, creating famous drinks at the bar like a mezcal mule and even wrote The PDT Cocktail Book.

“This isn’t how I wanted it to end, but I’ll be okay,” Meehan tells Eater.

The bartender compares the situation to a one-sided divorce — he didn’t want out, and feels ousted. He remains a partner at a PDT location in Hong Kong, alongside Bell and Shebairo, with a year left on their contract. His critically acclaimed Chicago Bar Prairie school closed last year.

While PDT goes on, Meehan’s departure affords him a chance to reflect on the bar’s trajectory, an East Village lightning-in-a-bottle success story tied, in part to the financial crash. “The larger, lavish, conspicuous, see-and-be-seen bars and clubs closed, and people gravitated toward more intimate places,” says Meehan.

“No, I’m no longer involved, but that does not take away from what my team and I accomplished over 12 years,” he says. “All the memories, all the relationships are mine, and vivid.”

This story has been updated to include comment from Jim Meehan

PDT (Please Don't Tell)

113 Saint Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009 (212) 614-0386 Visit Website

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