Washington Heights Landmark Set to Close

[Editor’s update: Two days after the announcement of its closing, Coogan’s reached an undisclosed agreement with its landlord that allows it to avoid having to close, AMNewYork reported. “What it took was a lot of focusing on what we meant to the community and for [NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital] to say, ‘You know what, let’s take a step back and let’s re-evaluate,’ ”  Coogan’s co-owner Dave Hunt told AMNewYork.]

Coogan’s, the Irish bar and restaurant at 4015 Broadway in Washington Heights, is set to close at the end of May, the victim of a $62,000 a month rent increase by its landlord and neighbor, New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Owners Peter Walsh, Dave Hunt and Tess McDade lamented the decision, but Hunt told Gregg McQueen at Manhattan Times: “No small business can survive that type of rent increase.”

Meanwhile, local politicians called a press conference for Sunday Jan. 14 at noon in front of the restaurant, which has been a neighborhood fixture and beacon for many from different communities in Upper Manhattan. The objective: to urge New York-Presbyterian to work with Coogan’s and help keep it open.

“When we opened, we were one of the first integrated bars in New York, and maybe the country,” said Walsh. “We were Dominican, African-American, Irish, Jewish, and everyone got along. We embraced the neighborhood. It worked. But thirty-three years ago, you didn’t see that kind of thing.”

The restaurant continued to operate at 4015 Broadway while many other Washington Heights businesses closed their doors in the late 80’s and early 90’s, as the neighborhood was plagued by crime, drugs and riots.

“We were really a safe haven,” remarked Walsh, who said that Coogan’s stayed open around the clock during riots that rocked Washington Heights in July 1992, following the fatal shooting of a local resident by a police officer.

Go to Manhattan Times to read about the restaurant’s colorful history, and how it’s been a special place for so many over the years.

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