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Wilfrid1

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Which led me to look at the Chumley’s menu, not crippling like expensive but amusingly exotic.

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Made me think of the contentious question of the oldest bar in the city, by which might be meant:

 

Oldest continuously operating bar

Oldest continuously operating bar in same building (more or less)

Oldest continuously operating bar with full license

 

And doubtless other qualifications. If you Google the question, it’s surprising how rarely Neir’s appears in the results. It’s certainly not at all well known. But it’s a serious contender, if you overlook about a year when it was closed and between owners (2009).

 

Fraunces Tavern has the oldest name, but it’s not been remotely continuous in operation, and the original building is long gone (and the new one, I think, is not on the same lot). It’s kind of Delmonico’s.

 

The Bridge Cafe was older than all contenders (currently closed), but I think it’s controversial that it has been consistently open as a bar since 1794. Looks like it was a general store until the 1820s, although certainly it was normal to drink alcohol in general stores. Then there was a long spell as a brothel; does that mean it wasn’t a bar?

 

The Ear Inn was built in 1817 on the site of an older sleeping place for sailors and dock workers. Became a tavern in 1890.

 

McSorley’s has undoubtedly been continuously open in the same place since day one: 1854, I thought, but recent research claims 1862.

 

Pete’s Tavern, 1864, claims to be the oldest bar in Manhattan on the grounds that McSorley’s is a beer bar, not fully licensed.

 

Neir’s seems unfairly overlooked.

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The Bridge Cafe was older than all contenders (currently closed), but I think it’s controversial that it has been consistently open as a bar since 1794. Looks like it was a general store until the 1820s, although certainly it was normal to drink alcohol in general stores. Then there was a long spell as a brothel; does that mean it wasn’t a bar?

 

And sadly won't reopen. Just way too much aggravation (and money) for the owners.

 

But, if you know of another good space for rent, one of the owners does want to open a bar, preferably below 14th Street.

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Yes - they've owned the building since sometime in the 70s, I believe. Father was a pretty big player in real estate, but passed away young, and the 3 siblings don't necessarily see eye to eye.

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Yes, it’s gone.

 

For real veterans, it was the venue for one of the very first eGullet meet ups. I think the second.

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