Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pilar Montero

Montero's Bar announced on their Facebook page yesterday the sad passing of matriarch Pilar Montero:

"Pilar passed away Saturday night and will be missed dearly by her family and friends. On Tuesday, January 17th, there will be a one-day viewing at Raccuglia & Son Funeral Home, which is located at 323 Court Street at Sackett Street from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m... Please feel free to pass this information on to others. We welcome you to share your memories of Pilar here, on our Facebook Page. We at Montero's thank you for the love and support."

photo: Fred Conrad, NY Times

Pilar and her husband, Joseph, opened Montero's on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue in 1947. It was once a haven for longshoremen and sailors--some of whom still find their way here during Fleet Week every year.

Reported the Times in 1995, Pilar "was born on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village and first came to Brooklyn as a little girl on the ferry on which her father worked." She recalled meeting her husband to blogger Lisa Leland, "When we met he was on a sea-going tug because there was a war going on." Says Leland, "In her youth, Pilar was a performing ballerina in her family's native Spain."

She and Joseph ran the bar together through the years, hosting a few luminaries, including (by legend) the King of Denmark. They rented a room upstairs to author Frank McCourt. According to McCourt's memoir Teacher Man, Pilar liked him because he "wasn't like the rest of the Irishers, who wanted to fight fight fight."

After Joseph retired to Spain in the 1990s and passed away, Pilar remained at her usual post, on a stool at the bar's corner, where she was well-known and loved by the regulars.

Said the Times of Pilar in 2006, "She is a human time machine, saying things like, 'Max Schmeling was a good-looking man' with such authority that you have no reason to doubt her."

Montero's Bar


Marty Wombacher said...

R.I.P. Pilar. I've never been to Montero's and plan to check it out soon.

lauran said...

good story. what will happen to the bar?

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Oh, this is so sad! Montero's is one of my favorite places - old, genuine, with a real homey vibe. To be there is to be family. Pilar will be sorely missed.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Very sad. This is a fine old bar, & I hope it stays the way it is now. Marty, I think you have in fact been to Montero's, but perhaps under the influence of too many beers? You should go back though!

Ed said...

With both Joseph and Pilar gone, I doubt the bar will last long, though I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised. However, if Montero's goes, this isn't a case of being forced out by rent hikes or police/ DOH harassment, it would be more of a natural death after a long and full life.

And yes the place is definitely worth a visit, and its not that out of the way. Most of the subways in the MTA system run through Borough Hall, the closest subway stop, though from the subway its a bit of a hike..

Katrink said...

I think the place will continue - her son Pepe still runs it with his wife, who often cooks food that they offer for free. I always loved seeing Pilar in the corner - a very regal lady. It's a great bar that my husband and I like to visit before dining at La Mancha up the street (but don't tell Pepe if you're eating there; for some reason he has a hard-on for that restaurant!).

Chris said...

R.I.P. Mrs. Montero. A very classy woman, and Joseph was a tremendous gentleman. I would occasionally speak with them before the bar would get crazy and crowded. Great folks, great bar. Montero's should be declared a landmark.

zsleep said...

With the passing of Pilar it is hard to not feel we are losing a time and place. She was one of the last truly European Americans. Rich with tradition and a heart of gold. It is not necessary to say "rest in peace" because I have no doubt a woman of Pilars' quality will undoubtedly rest peacefully.

Professor Eval said...

Best Montero memory:
Got into a pretty bad car accident right outside of the bar back in ’85. Crawled inside to shake off the cobwebs, and proceeded to get hammered. Turned to my now wife and slurred “I couldn’t bear to lose you - marry me” to which she said “Nope - It’s the Jack talking, and if I was your wife I could still die”. I couldn’t understand what she meant, but after asking her twice more in the next 2 years she finally said yes. That, and I got Tetanus there once.