The interior of Coogan’s, which is named after a nearby topographical feature, Coogan’s Bluff.
By Rob Walsh
At some point early on in the Bloomberg administration, I attended a community meeting in Washington Heights to discuss ways to improve the neighborhood.
The meeting was held around a big round table at Coogan’s Restaurant and Bar in upper Manhattan.
It was led by one of its owners, Peter Walsh, a larger than life personality who quickly made you feel right at home.
It became very clear to me that I was sitting at the indisputable community center for politicians, Columbia’s doctors, nurses and medical students, cops, fireman, and the neighborhood regulars.
Since Coogan’s opened 33 years ago, the owners have left a long lasting positive mark in the neighborhood, one that goes far beyond the serving of good food and a cold beer.
As Jim Dwyer of the New York Times wrote: “Where others saw a broken neighborhood and city, they built a sprawling, homey space that erased ethnic, class, racial and religious boundaries, fully embracing and embodying the promise of New York.
“The owners of Coogan’s helped steer the neighborhood through the crack epidemic of the eighties. In the late 1990s, when the neighborhood still had some rough spots.
“Walsh organized the annual Coogan’s Salsa, Shamrock and Blues 5K run through the streets - with musicians stationed along the course.”
Unfortunately, Coogan’s is set to close this spring, at the end of a lease and against impossible rent demands for a renewal.
I am still hoping that New York Presbyterian Hospital, the landlord, sees a much bigger picture for this community – a shared value of having the doors of the heart and soul of the neighborhood landmark remain open.
Rob Walsh presents the “Bottom Line for Business” on 1010 WINS and is a former Small Business Commissioner for New York City.