One of New York City’s oldest bars is being forced to close its doors this week.
The owner of Neir’s Tavern in Queens — which lasted a whopping 190 years in Woodhaven — says in a goodbye email that he wasn’t able to negotiate an affordable lease and that he simply no longer has the money to stay open. Loy Gordon wrote that the inability to secure a lease, coupled with “insufficient sales” meant that he was losing money every month. Gordon told Eater that the landlords wanted $5,400 a month, a more-than-$2,000 per month increase that he would have to pay on top of building repairs.
Last year, Gordon and a group of regulars banded together to try to save the bar, trying things like securing landmark status, upping its public profile, and holding block parties — but those measures did not work. “I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I couldn’t get landmark status. I’m sorry I couldn’t buy the building,” Gordon wrote. His full note is below.
Neir’s Tavern opened in 1829 as the Old Blue Pump House — 25 or so years before McSorley’s Ale House opened. It was allegedly the first place local Mae West performed at, as well as where Fred Trump hung out, having grown up in the neighborhood. In more modern days, a few iconic scenes from Goodfellas were filmed here, and the bar was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.
It’s had many owners and names throughout its tenure here in NYC — including the Old Abbey and Union Course Tavern — but Neir’s Tavern stuck when Louis Neir took over in 1898. Gordon became its last owner 11 years ago. Tin ceilings, a mahogany bar, and straightforward liquor choices signal its age.
Neir’s Tavern’s final day is Sunday, January 12.
Yesterday I was forced to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Sunday January 12th I will have to step down as owner of Neirs Tavern and I have no one available to replace me.
I’ve been unable to obtain an affordable long term lease to reach our goal of the 200th anniversary in 2029. I’m operating month to month with an unaffordable rent and insufficient sales to overcome a year of losing money every month. Due to increase personal obligations I’m unable to put in the time necessary to overcome increase business challenges I’m faced.
Everyday I pray I would find a way to dedicate more time to overcome these challenges until yesterday I had to face the truth. Neirs Tavern is losing money and I don’t have the time to help to overcome it. I want to be a good father and husband. I hope my Neirs Team will be here until Sunday in the event a miracle happens. But I have no more money after Sunday.
I’m sorry i let you down. I’m sorry I couldn’t get landmark status. I’m sorry I couldn’t buy the building.
but I’m grateful for all the memories we’ve created together saving Neirs Tavern the last 11 years I’ve been here. Thanks to everyone past and present who made Neirs Tavern our 2nd living room for the past 190 years.
Neirs Tavern and the entire team