For a beloved Irish restaurant that welcomed New Yorkers from every walk of life, it’s now closed to everyone.
Coogan’s, which opened in 1985 at the heart of the Washington Heights neighborhood, announced yesterday on social media that it had shuttered for good. Before becoming another Manhattan institution that’s been lost during this period of shelter-in-place orders, this mom-and-pop restaurant attracted a diverse crowd unlike any other Big Apple establishment. World-class track-and-field competitors regularly dined and drank here because it was next to the Armory. Doctors, nurses and cops mingled with locals, many of Caribbean, Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage.
“If you drank whisky, we loved you. We didn’t care what color you were,” co-owner Peter Walsh shared with Time Out New York. “Our peas got into our potatoes, and our potatoes got into our meat. Nobody was scared of anybody else.”
Still, a closed restaurant meant mounting bills still had to be paid. The restaurant’s landlord had told owners not to worry about rent but other expenses—such as insurance and rental equipment costs—mounted to nearly $25,000, according to Walsh.
“Our business, the restaurant business, is fragile. It was fragile before this even started,” Walsh said. “If the employees are living week to week, so is the restaurant in many senses. We’re in the same predicament.”
One of Coogan’s biggest fans was Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who helped save the restaurant from closing a few years ago. Now countless fans have gone online to share their memories of the pints they drank with their Shepherd’s Pie.
“Part of the restaurant business is introducing strangers together,” Walsh said. “That was the magic we had in this place: we knew how to connect people.”
Here's a collection of reactions from New Yorkers whom Coogan's counted as fans:
Here’s the full letter posted on Instagram:
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