Three Years Later, Memories of Neir’s Salvation
In the hours and days after the news broke that Neir’s was closing after 190 years of service, people began suggesting ways that this historic location could be saved.
Ideas came forth ranging from calling Martin Scorsese, who directed “Goodfellas” or Robert De Niro, who starred in it, to pulling together a large pool of investors to donate $1,000 each to make a down payment on the building.
But the problem that could not be solved in 10 years now needed to be solved in just a few days, before Sunday.
And the way the eulogies were pouring in, it seemed like Sunday was going to come and go without a resolution. People were leaving heartfelt messages of grief. The closest nearby bar, Geordie’s, posted a beautiful message of support for Neir’s owner Loy Gordon.
But as it turned out, there was a solution in the works, and the ball had gotten rolling on that nearly a year earlier when Assemblyman Mike Miller began a dialogue with Tom Grech, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce (QCC).
With just days to go, Mike and Tom were able to pull together a meeting with the building’s owner and as Mr. Grech joked later, he locked the door to the meeting room and said no one was allowed to leave until they struck a deal.
The Mayor’s Office got involved after Loy called into a radio show and asked Mayor de Blasio for help. And Councilman Bob Holden was at the table, offering aid and support to this beloved historic location within his district.
And once everyone got together, a deal was reached and the next few hours were bedlam.
I was in the doctor’s office for a routine checkup. Even in the waiting room, the nurses were talking about the impending closure of Neir’s, I couldn’t get away from it. And while I was waiting in the doctor’s office, my phone rang.
It was Assemblyman Miller. The connection was bad and every time he started to tell me the good news, the connection would cut out. Finally, when we had a 10-second window of clear connection Mike gave me the good news, but told me to keep quiet, that it would be announced later.
We stopped by Neir’s which was solidly packed with revelers from around the city who had seen the news and came out to say farewell. For many, it was their first trip to this historic treasure.
Other people came from long distances to say farewell, including one gentleman who drove from Pennsylvania just to have a beer. And locals were wandering over all afternoon, many as they often do, to kick off the weekend at their favorite gathering spot.
We were surrounded by people who had come to see a funeral, and yet this good news was bursting to be let free.
It was the reporters who broke the news by asking those they were interviewing how they felt about it being saved. Quickly, word began to spread, tears of sadness turned to tears of joy. Hugs of comfort turned into hugs of relief and celebration.
Mayor de Blasio came out to Woodhaven and stood behind the bar and made it official. It was a remarkable night for this community.
There is a very old saying that success has a thousand parents but failure is an orphan. When it came to saving Neir’s, this old saying was very apt.
Every person who came to Neir’s, for lunch or for an evening out; each person who shared news stories about the place, who told friends or relatives about it, were all part of a 10-year campaign to get the city to stand up and recognize this historic location. And though it had been saved, it would soon face the same dangerous fight that doomed many bars and restaurants in New York City: Covid-19.