Coogan’s, an institution in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, is closing its doors for good as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Irish Echo Staff
It almost closed two years ago because of high rent.
Now Coogan’s, a hugely popular Irish hostelry in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan and a winner of an Irish Echo Small Business Award, is calling last orders.
This time really last because while rent can be negotiated, Covid-19, right now, doesn’t bend for anybody or anything.
In a statement, the bar/restaurant’s three owners said: “To our Coogan’s family and friends, We need your help in saying farewell in a message that is so very difficult to write. What’s missing are your stories and wishes and even pics that will make whole the heart of our saying goodbye.
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“Ironically, this past March 17t h would be the last time Coogan’s closed its doors. We had hoped to open them again but sadly that it is not possible.
“To all our Coogan’s family that extends from a corner in New York’s Washington Heights to so many in near and distant places, we offer love and best wishes that you remain safe, strong and healthy for now and ever.
“Our first priority will be the security and future of our staff. We encourage our friends to contact us to help this quality group of the best possible people in talent, hard work and integrity to obtain jobs and employment. For over thirty five years we have given and received more than is usual in a working experience.
“What was made at Coogan’s were warm relationships, easy smiles and hearty laughter. If you came in a stranger, you immediately became a friend and left as an ‘old timer’. We were able to share a full glass of love with a large plate of honesty in a neighborhood full of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet.
“At this time we are so proud of our friends and professionals at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia Medical Center who made Coogan’s their home away from home. Thank you for who you are and what you do. The world depends on you!
“To many of us, Coogan’s was a public house, a meeting place, a table to break bread and solve problems. We were a place of celebration and remembrance. We were a bar full of life…a place to listen and a place to talk. We were a place to leave behind the burdens of everyday life and, more often than not, inherit new ones when we volunteered to help a neighbor in need, a kid in search of himself, or a stranger down on his luck.
“We were people of different races, creeds and ideas, all with the same dream to be secure and love. We were a place to find out you weren’t alone but if you wanted to be, your space was sacred. And together at Coogan’s we became stronger and powerful, with an urge to share and offer ourselves with deeds that gave us, in return, the realization of life and the essence of beauty.
“There are so many people we would want to mention for their consideration and friendship, especially during the past few months, but we hesitate for fear of omitting anyone. That will come later when our emotions are settled.
Now it is your turn to complete our story…Sad and grateful, Gracias, sláinte and thank you.”
Back in 2018, Coogans almost shuttered due to a rent issue with its landlord, New York Presbyterian Hospital. There was a huge public outcry and celebrities including Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda became involved. An agreement was reached and Coogans remained open.
This time around, according to reports, the hospital was doing all it could to help Coogans stay open but in an ironic twist, one that a hospital would understand more than most, social distancing was too high a bluff to climb for a place that survived and thrived on good old fashioned social mingling.