Sunday, July 15, 2007


VANISHED: January 2006

Longtime Beacon to Barflies Has Served Its Last Round
New York Times
January 22, 2006

Jimmy McHale stood there with his arms crossed. He frowned. Everything was gone. His stools were gone, his tables were gone, his beer tap gone. In the place where his long oak bar once stood, a patch of sunlight rested on the floor. "Once you get the altar out, the church seems kind of empty, doesn't it?" he asked. "Yep, we took the soul out of the place." The end has finally come for McHale's, the beer and burger spot at West 46th Street and Eighth Avenue in Midtown, which Mr. McHale and his family have owned since 1953. For more than half a century, its neon sign was a beacon to the barflies of the Great White Way, but after a final curtain call on Monday night, it was time to strike the set.

...McHale's provided an old-time drinking experience in an ever-modernizing neighborhood. There was the old dark wood interior, the hockey and baseball memorabilia, the buzz and glow of neon and some of the biggest burgers in the city, made by Italo Huaringa, the Peruvian cook who worked in a warrenlike basement there for 35 years.

Mr. McHale still hopes to revive the place and is scouting out locations. He has put the bar in storage in New Jersey and allowed his friends and relatives to take home certain items on a temporary loan. His cousin-in-law, Marc Malamud, walked off with an air-conditioning unit and a few unopened bottles (not to be returned). Charlie Redmond, a bellman at the Edison Hotel, took home a window and the ice-skate sharpener the cooks employ to hone their blades. John Wright, a regular, was still considering his choice of souvenir. Mr. Wright is a lank, cadaverous man approaching 80 who has been drinking at McHale's since Dwight D. Eisenhower's day. Fifteen years ago, the management imposed a rule: He could have only six drinks in a year. He takes one for the Tony Awards, another at the New Year, three on certain birthday celebrations and reserves a "floater drink," which he used at the McHale's farewell last week.

Then there was Mr. McHale himself, who plans to lock the door for good today. What would he be taking home to his apartment? Nothing much, he said. "My apartment is just where I sleep - this is my house."
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

McHale's, like so much else in this vanishing city, is going condo.


Pepe said...

Just re-visiting this post. I recall this was one of the first bars I "settled" in. The food was right on, the drinks even better. One drunken afternoon a stagehand friend and I were tippling one too many when we heard the wail of bagpipes. My friend recognized it as a dirge of sorts. We watched as a procession walked by, somber and sad, all in black. We stood up, I lowered my head while he doffed his hat. The regulars started to snicker. We looked around and one said, "keep watching." We then saw a small, green casket float by, carried by the pallbearers. When the real laughter started, we knew we'd been duped. It was one of those "interactive" stage shows so popular. We'd given the regulars such a laugh,they bought our next two rounds.

Davy G said...

I used to love this place. It was old, funky, smokey and had good burgers. This is my favorite kind of place, thankfully there's still a few around, like Molly's.