Monday, June 11, 2012

McSorley's for Sale?

*UPDATE: McSorley's responds on Facebook:




A few weeks ago, our artist friend Randy Hage went by McSorley's to take some photos (perhaps a new miniature is in the works).

He reported back with some startling news: "There were about 4 or 5 guys out front in a group and one off to the side. The guy to the side asked me why I was taking photos of the place. He said that he was the owner of the building and had been trying hard to sell the place. Said he was tired of the city and wanted to move up to Albany."



I've tried, but have not been able to confirm this information (I'll leave that to those blessed with press credentials and writing staffs). There's no "for sale" sign on the building and I can't find a listing, either. Maybe it was a joke? Or is that wishful thinking?

Still, I would not be surprised. Though the pub still packs in the crowds (go early if you want to enjoy the place), the city hasn't been kind to McSorley's lately.

In 2011, the New York City Health Department forced McSorley's to clean the famous dust from the ancient wishbones that have dangled above the bar since doughboys left them there for luck in World War I. Bloomberg's henchmen also banned Minnie, the McSorley's cat, from the bar where she and her many predecessors have reigned from the beginning.

As Dan Barry put it in his article about these assaults on the bar's traditions: "old New York and new New York remain in conflict, and old New York is losing."



The building and business are owned by Matthew Maher. He started as a barman in 1964 and took over in 1977, so it's no wonder he's tired. But if Mr. Maher sells and heads to Albany, what will become of our storied ale house?

In a time when cold-hearted, trendy restaurateurs are taking over the city's classic spots to theme-park the past and cash in on nostalgia, let's hope the high-end, velvet-rope sharks aren't circling. I don't want my "McSorley's Bed & Breakfast" nightmare to come true.



See Also:
Bill's Gay 90s
Minetta Tavern
Faux-dora
Rocco's

27 comments:

EV Grieve said...

I wouldn't be surprised either.... And I imagine the place will soon be home to $24 burgers.

Anonymous said...

That would be just classic, wouldn't it. A place that has existed for over 150 years sold and turned into some tattooed faux-bohemian's dream restaurant. If McSorley's is sold, I swear I'm moving to L.A., I can't take this shit anymore.

John M said...

Berlin, Anon. Move there, the East side is still kind of what our LES used to be.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Did you contact the owner?

Jeremiah Moss said...

i wasn't able to get in touch with anyone. i figure someone else might have better luck. maybe you?

Little Earthquake said...

And there's the rub. This guy could sell to someone intent on maintaining the business and the building and staying true to history, but he'll probably get a lot more money if he sells to someone who has other plans. Certainly Maher is entitled to as much money as he sees fit and it's not for us to judge him on his personal and financial future. It's purely hypothetical but I'd love to see what some of us would do in this position. I'm willing to bet that history and preservation wouldn't necessarily come first.

Shawn Chittle said...

1977-2012 is quite a run. Who can blame the guy.

It's sad there is no next generation to leave it to, or some caretaker who loves McSoreley's as it is and can afford to buy the building/bar and keep it going for generations to come.

Marty Wombacher said...

I pray that John DeLucie isn't eyeballing the joint. If this turns out to be true, go there at noon on a weekday and get a cheese and crackers plate while you still can.

Anonymous said...

So the writer of this article hasn't spoken with Matty, his daughter Theresa, or any of the long-time staff? Doesn't sound like any of the prior commentors have any knowledge to share either. Albany?!

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Uh. DeLucie.

John DeLucie, Graydon Carter, Michael Bloomberg, Amanda Burden: the four horsemen of the Old New York Apocalypse.

Anonymous said...

John Shultz is rumored to have bought the bar .

Katrink said...

Worse yet, someone will buy it, and "re-invent" it as an "olde Nieu Yorke" bar. Reminds me of "Closing Time" by Joseph Heller. It ends with a society wedding (arranged by Yossarian) in the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The event planners cleanse the place of all the winos and bums and hookers and homeless folks - and hire actors to play winos and bums and hookers and homeless folks. Welcome to Pseudo York City!

Jeremiah Moss said...

John Schultz? please tell us more.

Ms. said...

Damn it!! I hardly ever go to bars anymore (except for poetry readings) but the eviction of a cat truly angers me. I'll watch with curiosity for developments.

Goggla said...

Please, please, please, no.

Anonymous said...

John Shultz is a McSorleys regular who's been unsuccessfully trying to buy the bar for years , hes rumored to have a consortium in place that are willing to pay any price for the old ale house .

esquared said...

Don't know if the rumour is true or not, but it is inevitable with what's happening in the EV/NYC.

Just to echo Casino:

"...Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? ... Junk bonds."

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Anon--if John Schultz is a regular and wants to keep the bar as it is, then this is good news.

kingofnycabbies said...

The real value of the property is from the apartments upstairs, some of which have always gone to people who worked there. McSorley's itself is so small a place, and the kitchen so tiny (a friend cooked there in the '90s; it was barely big enough for the two of us) that even by Manhattan standards a restaurant would be an iffy proposition.

EV Grieve said...

OK then.

WIll go back to worrying about Katz's now...

JakeGould said...

Jeremiah, take a break. Cut down your posts to even fewer a week & commit yourself to only posting things you genuinely research. Because the fact you would post gossip like this—with 100% no facts—and lament about a non-closing is really depressing. It’s like you want the place to close so you can wrench yourself into a knot over it.

Seriously, do you think a place like McSorley’s would go up for sale and you would be the first to hear?

Jeremiah Moss said...

Jake, for some reason you're always urging me to take a break. maybe you need a break from reading me.

laura said...

brooks of sheffield: what is the problem w/GRAYDON CARTER??? he has kept the waverly inn exactly like it was in 1920. same as i remember it in the 60s. i was there about 3/12 yrs ago. the food was amazing, service great, employees very intelligent. i could live w/out his bar scene. thats where he puts the people who are tacky loud & dumb. i would prefer he was more exclusive, but he did say he was democratic. here is a beautiful historic place, whats your problem?

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah, consider your chain yanked several times over. John Schultz and a consortium - stop it, please. You're killing me.

Sean S. said...

McSorley's is a gold mine. Cash, half-filled mugs of ale, always packed, etc.

Don't worry about it being gentrified. No one is that stupid.

I remember Maher when he first got there in 1964 as a waiter. I doubt he would sell it to someone who would gut it.

Jeremiah Moss said...

we all want to believe this could never happen, but recent history has surprised us again and again, as iconic treasures have been snatched away, gutted or else polished and preserved behind a velvet rope. anything in this city can be lost. love it while you can.

Anonymous said...

Although Mattie runs the place, it is a family business, "Owned and Operated by the Maher Family, Inc.", as it says on the window. If Matt ever retires it'll stay in the family.