A popular Irish bar in the heart of New York City thought it had served its final drink, but five months after last call, it's getting back to business. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day.
"Once we get that Guinness going, that's all it needs," said Patrick McNamee, co-owner of The Mean Fiddler, a Midtown Manhattan establishment located a block from Times Square. The family-owned business that permanently shut down last year over pandemic financial constraints has now signed a new lease that will allow taps to start flowing once again.
When the bar was forced to close its door because of the coronavirus, McNamee says it was "a shock to everybody."
"Just like that March 16 last year, we got closed down at 8 p.m.," General Manager Deirdre Coote recalled.
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Suddenly, there were no customers, no money and rent was due. It's a story that played out all over the city and the world. The Mean Fiddler tried to stay afloat with an outdoor seating area but months passed and fall came. The bar had to close its doors in October 2020.
Workers tore out the ceilings in the bar's basement. Tables and chairs were packed up. But months later, the kegs have been delivered and the bar is being dusted off. McNamee says it was thanks to an agreement with "an understanding landlard."
McNamee now had a day and a half to get ready to reopen in time for St. Patrick's Day, but word got around that the bar was coming back and the community showed up to help. Ex-employees, off-duty police officers, firefighters and other volunteers cleaned, painted and restocked.
With restaurants and bars in New York City only allowed indoor dining at 35% capacity, until it expands to 50% on Friday, it will be a struggle to survive but "it's a start," Coote says.