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On St. Patrick's Day, Number Of Irish Pubs Dwindling In NYC Due To Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - On St. Patrick's Day, the number of Irish pubs left standing to open their doors has dwindled.

It was the night before the big holiday last year that Mayor Bill de Blasio shut down bars and restaurants.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports, this St. Patrick's Day is a rebirth for The Mean Fiddler. It had announced it was closing in October.

"It feels like January 1st for us," said owner Patrick McNamee. "Irish eyes are smiling today, you know. So we're all happy."

Over the last year, revenues tanked in the Times Square pub as Broadway remained shuttered, and they couldn't reach an agreement with the landlord, until recently.


"Boys in blue, Midtown North and South, came in, did painting, did construction for us, and they were here until about 2 o'clock last night," McNamee said.

And in Midtown, in the presence of UV air filters, there was a toast to Mustang Harry's, a Midtown landmark. Longtime customers of the pub, here since 1995, even wore memorabilia that they could not show off last year due to the bars being forced to close the night before.

"I keep it in my kitchen as good luck everyday when I wake up," said Midtown West resident Theria Barnes.

Co-owner Ian Conroy says business was down 90% in 2020, but understanding landlords and government loans helped him through it.

"There's life in the place, and as long as there's life, there's hope," Conroy said.

Conroy has several safety measures in place, including requiring every customer get their temperature taken before being seated.

"So we're adapting," said Manhattan resident Tom Veltre.

And cherishing it, because some neighborhood spots could not survive this pandemic. Among those now closed: Murphy's Tavern on Stone Street, Foley's on West 33rd Street, Coogan's In Washington Heights, and Finnerty's in the East Village.

"That's a shame," said Dyker Heights resident Tom DiLillo. "You always get a home cooked meal and a good feeling."

"And we're looking forward to 2022," said Manhattan resident Ciaran Collis.

With a little bit of Irish luck—and community support – the pubs are hopeful.

Watch Lisa Rozner's report -- 

Irish pubs in Woodlawn, the Bronx, were counting their blessings, saying some business is better than no business, which makes 2021 better than the year before.

There was a live soundtrack at Keane's Bar on Katonah Avenue. The holiday often brings first timers to the pub, but this year, owner Seamus Keane saw mostly familiar faces.

"It's not the normal crowd, but it's our local crowd, the same one that's been supporting us through the entire pandemic, and I'm happy that we could finally put on a bit of a dinner and a bit of a show for them," Keane told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

"I'm usually in my kilt, marching up and down the avenue, but I'm still out with my buds having a good time," patron Katherine Harrison said.

The normal shoulder-to-shoulder crowd was more of a steady stream. Some were eager to let loose after a year of lockdown.

"I think COVID rebellion," one woman said, laughing.

Normally, the FDNY EMS Pipes and Drums would be recovering from the parade on Fifth Avenue. This year, a handful performed at pop-up events.

"Just not the same. Although this year, because we were able to play a little bit and get out and see people, it was a little bit better than last year," FDNY EMS Pipes and Drums member Rene Rogers said.

At Rambling House Woodlawn, customers ate corned beef sandwiches washed down with Guinness, while owner Joe Carty had a side of envy.

The governor is limiting him to 35% capacity while his friends just up the street in Yonkers can operate at 50%.

"There has to be some science behind it, but we don't know Cuomo's thoughts," Carty said.

There is much relief the state is easing limits; city restaurants can go to 50% capacity as of March 19.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner and Tony Aiello contributed to this report.

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