Monday, December 12, 2016

Peter McManus

VANISHING?

*Update: A Facebook group has formed to help Save McManus.*

The great and beloved Peter McManus pub has been at 7th Avenue and 19th Street in Chelsea since 1932. Now we hear it may not have much longer.



Reader Marjorie wrote in to say she'd heard the historic spot is closing soon. "The air rights above the deli and bar apparently have been bought," she wrote, "and the two remaining residents of that circa 1903 building above the bar will have to move. So once again, the historic makes way for new construction."

In April, The Real Deal reported that the real estate investment company Renatus Group bought the building and its neighbor, 152-154 7th Avenue, for $10.5 million. "According to Renatus’ website," says Real Deal, "it will redevelop the buildings to significantly improve cash flow."



I went by to confirm. A bartender told me it's all uncertain.

As Marjorie said, the deli next to the bar on 7th has been shuttered. So has the lingerie shop on the street side. Looking at the windows of the upstairs apartments, it appears that most have been emptied. What happened to the residents?

What will happen to Peter McManus?



There is much to love about this place. It's one of the last authentic New York spots left in Chelsea to get a meal or a drink in a warm and friendly atmosphere. It is still family owned. It makes one of New York's best burgers. The jukebox is good, filled with classics. The owners even host a day of stickball for the neighborhood every summer, with free beer and food and donations to pediatric cancer research.

Plus: They recently featured a Trump sandwich made of "white bread, full of boloney, with Russian dressing and small pickle."



If that's not enough, if you need more reason to love Peter McManus, the place itself is gorgeous, full of antique stained glass and ephemera.

As I described it in 2008, it has all the things that are good about a bar: wood worn smooth by countless elbows, a warm amber glow, crazy but friendly barflies who look as if they've been pickled in the place, which they have.



As a rare bonus, it also has a lovely pair of wooden phone booths that light up when you open their doors, welcoming you into them.

And people really use them, too.



Peter McManus made my (rapidly dwindling) list of "What to Worry About" back in 2014. Still, it seems we shouldn't have to worry about this one. It should be too beloved, too beautiful, too historic, too valuable to actually vanish. And yet we know how easy it is for greedy, short-sighted developers to come busting in and savagely gut our history--along with our hearts.

This one's worth fighting for.

Save Peter McManus. #SaveNYC.













19 comments:

Scout said...

Yes, McManus is definitely a physically attractive place (although I only went in twice in the last 35 years - the sad alcoholic clientele didn't make it a very happy place to visit).

But I'm not sure what you're calling for in this post - would you champion legislation making it illegal for NYC building owners to sell their aging property to developers? Enlighten me.

The four-story, late 18th century building I lived in for decades was sold recently by the family that owned it; their ground floor business was losing money, and the only way they could survive was by selling their property; should that have been forbidden for the sake of aesthetics?

Unknown said...

Fuck...this sucks. I practically lived there back in1983 when I lived on 19th street.....

BrooksNYC said...

I thought this one was bulletproof. (But how many times have I said that?) I feel sick.

If there's a chance of saving it, we've got to try.

Dax said...

I worked in a record store on 21st and 7th ave in the early 80's called Pyramid. I went to McManus Pub for 3 years starting in '80. I always loved hanging out there. This one is very sad. They're just selling NYC by the pound, aren't they? Another memory destroyed to the developers! And those a*holes don't even know or care how much history they're trashing.. Just sad. Hey! Make sure a real nice Starbucks goes in there! A*holes!!!

Donnie Moder said...

This is another tough one. The's treasures are just fading into memory.

John Harbour said...

This is heartbreaking. I've been a member of "Howie's Corner" for the past five years. This place is a treasure.

Marjorie said...

This is very sad. The bar has such a fantastic history. I think the bar should apply for landmark status and any new building can then be built around it. There is a great need to save and preserve old places that are filled with memories.

Andy Scherer said...

Worked up the block from '80-83. Visited often, and there was nothing like St. Patricks' at McManus.

Frankie Spurs said...

Although I don't frequent it very often these days, it is a landmark. I hope they leave Fiddlesticks alone.

Downtowner said...

In some early Seinfeld episodes they used the exterior of this place for an establishing shot at a restaurant. Every time I see it in reruns I'm amazed it's still there.

ctodd said...

A home to the improv and sketch comedy community for many years, dating back to the late 90s when UCB Theatre opened their first location on 21st and 7th. The owners are awesome people. Most everyone working in comedy today who came out of the NYC scene spent late nights in that back room. Hopefully developers can build around it.

James said...

I used to go in there for dollar beers. Even in the 80's that was a rare find among respectable establishments. That was a New York still digging itself out of a darker mold with a financial crisis not far in the past. The problem is that those with a chance to make money will toss out nearly anything to do so. The system rewards them for doing it. What is needed is a sense of history going one step further than what Ada Huxtable wanted when trying single-handedly to keep Penn Station standing. It needs to go beyond buildings and to tradition and life itself, if possible. Tell that to developers, and they'll laugh.

Paula said...

Something needs to be done here. I've lived in Chelsea my entire life and Peter McManus's is an institution, and it is also a landmark bar. Developers should be made to see the value in keeping some of the character of the neighborhoods where they purchase properties. Perhaps, if there are enough Chelsea residents who are upset about this, something will be done?

"There can be only one" (just a line from a movie that was filmed there) for those who remember.

mikestill said...

McManus is a treasure, it's part of the DNA of New York City. I, and so do the hundreds if not thousands of fans of the bar, that it can be preserved!

We started a facebook group where we can share info about how to keep McManus in our lives, go ahead and join if you want to keep following this: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1291230054230811/

tscushen said...

For years the curtains were identical to my grammar school uniform skirt at St. Martin of Tours. McManus has been a profound part of my long life in Chelsea. Sick of all this detruction in the name of development. -- Sweeney

Unknown said...

Is that the scene where Brenda plays "Just One Year of Love" on the jukebox?

Greg Thymius said...

...and how well I remember having my teenaged record collecting fantasies realized at Pyramid!

Jane Rayburn said...

Wow! This is a blast from the past!!!! I lived above McManus's in the 1970's. When I
took a shower, I got the bartender wet!!!! He called me "Tennessee" needless to say my home when I would go in for a quick drink. I think I was responsible for adding Jack Daniels to the inventory. Chelsea was and is a great neighborhood in the City, I loved my time there and have wonderful memories of those days--Jane Eve

Ellen Garin said...

Let's face the fact that the High Line was/is a huge contributor to the demise of homey, sleepy, quiet Chelsea. Chelsea RE is now among the most expensive in NYC. So sad to read this about Peter McManus. Lived around the corner and spent more than a few fun evenings there in the 70s and 80s. The old Chelsea that brought about McManus is as long gone as the Merchant Marine boarding houses that dotted the neighborhood. Over the years RE prices caused changes: DTW was on the same 19th Street block and is long gone, the luncheonettes on 8th Avenue are gone, Negril on 23rd is gone, the Communist bookstore on 23rd is gone. All that seems to be left from the old Chelsea is the Salvation Army store and the El Quixote (with much higher prices). Hope McManus is saved.