Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Woodhaven Bar Neir's Tavern Gets a Time-Machine Fix Up by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

My older brother worked as a "pinboy" here when they had candlestick bowling lanes back in the mid 60's...

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Alex Ewen (r.) and Loycent Gordon, partners in Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, which dates back to the 1820s. Gabel for News, Pearl

There's decades of history behind the walls of the brown building at the corner of 78th St. and 88th Ave. in Woodhaven.

Neir's Tavern is where patrons of the Union Course racetrack stopped by for a drink, Mae West honed her famous act and director Martin Scorsese shot a scene for one of his most successful films.

After a thorough cleaning and face-lift, Neir's is ready to make some more memories for a whole new group of regulars with a three-day grand opening celebration that starts Thursday.

"We're hoping to reconnect with the neighborhood of Woodhaven and the rest of the city," said Loycent Gordon, a city firefighter who owns the bar with three friends who met while working in the music business.

The bar dates back to 1829, when it opened as The Old Blue Pump House. Over the years, it housed a ballroom and bowling alley, as well as the bar that served as a setting for a scene in the 1990 film "Goodfellas."

One of the partners, David Eng, purchased the building 20 years ago to build a recording studio. When the bar shut down in 2009, he decided to take it over.

Part-owner Alex Ewen, 52, tapped into his well-honed woodworking skills to restore the priceless mahogany bar and build a new front door. An expert was found to fix the original tap, which runs on an ice-coil system.

Local residents stopped by to offer support as they saw Ewen, Gordon and others polish the old copper and brass fixtures, scrape paint from the tin ceiling and clean out the cellar.

The bar hosts open mic events and jam sessions for musicians as well as movie nights. The bar's partners hope to broaden its appeal to nondrinkers by adding coffee and dessert offerings.

"We would like this to be a place for everyone in the neighborhood," Ewen said.