NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The city has stepped in to save one of the oldest bars in New York City.
The Queens establishment Neir’s Tavern, open for nearly 200 years, avoided a “last call” and will keep serving customers.
The tavern was supposed to close its doors for good this Sunday — it just couldn’t keep up with the rising rent — but thanks to its past and present patrons, the bar is saved in the nick of time, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports.
A goodbye party turned into a congratulatory one Friday night.
The bar has been in Woodhaven since 1829, before Queens was even included in New York City.
The hit movie Goodfellas gave the place some notoriety, but it never gave the neighborhood joint a big head.
“This bar was built for the working class of Woodhaven and Queens,” one woman said.
Current owner Loy Gordon first saved the bar, which sits on the corner of 78th Street and 88th Avenue, from closing more than a decade ago.
“I’m an immigrant that came here and I didn’t know how to read well and the community came together and helped me,” Gordon said. “When I saw this was closing 11 years ago, I decided it’s my time to give back to Queens.”
But recently, he says, a new landlord has been pushing for higher rents and Neir’s was on the brink of closing once again.
“I had no idea when I was on the radio that Loy would call,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday night.
Gordon called in to the mayor’s Friday morning radio interview, rallied the neighborhood and got the support of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
“We got the landlord in the room. We spent two hours at Chamber of Commerce today. I locked the door and said we’re not gonna leave until we have a deal,” said Thomas Grech, with the Chamber of Commerce.
“The landlord is backing down. The landlord is doing the right thing to help Loy, to help Neir’s,” de Blasio said.
“We got this far because the people. It’s not me, it was the people,” Gordon said.
Looking around the room Friday night, Gordon said, “I feel like I have an extended family now. I was like, oh man, my family has grown.”
The owner says he hopes the tavern will serve as a reminder to the neighborhood of the importance of supporting all its local business.
In addition to re-negotiating the rent, the city is also giving the tavern a $90,000 grant.