BY BENJAMIN FANG
The historic Woodhaven pub Neir’s Tavern will keep its doors open for the next five years, with an opportunity to reach its 200th anniversary. Last month, Loycent Gordon, the owner of the 191-year bar, officially signed a five-year lease, with an option to extend the agreement for another five years.
Though Gordon made a handshake deal with building owners Henry and Ken Shi in January, they finalized the agreement with the help of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. At the lease-signing ceremony, which was attended by chamber representatives, local elected officials and even Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gordon thanked all of his supporters for believing in him.
“This is a new lease on life. In the middle of a pandemic, we have an opportunity to start over,” he said. “I would hope Neir’s Tavern will be a beacon of hope for that.”
Believed to be one of the oldest bars in continuous operation in New York City, Neir’s Tavern was on the verge of closure at the start of the year. Unable to broker a deal with the property owners, Gordon, a New York City firefighter who has owned the bar for the last 11 years, decided to call up WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” during the weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment.
Gordon said it was a “shot in the dark,” a last hurrah that he hoped would lead to a miracle. He got through to the mayor and told his story.
“He felt a sense of responsibility to do something,” Gordon said of de Blasio.
Later that afternoon, Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber, invited Gordon, the Shi brothers, representatives from the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and local lawmakers to the chamber’s office in East Elmhurst.
“I closed the door and said I’m not going to feed you or let you out until we have a deal,” Grech said.
They emerged with a deal that was officially signed last week. Councilman Robert Holden, who was in the room, said the negotiation was contentious and difficult.
“But it was something we had to do, we must do, to protect small businesses and protect our history,” he said. “This is a landmark for Woodhaven and Queens. If any establishment was worth saving, it was this.”
As part of the agreement, SBS provided help through its commercial lease assistance program, according to Commissioner Jonnel Doris. They also provided a Love Your Local grant, which included 20 hours of expert advice from a business consultant and up to $90,000 for renovations.