Historic Queens Pub Immersed in Ownership Turmoil; Operating Since 1829   - The Jewish Voice
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Friday, January 27, 2023

Historic Queens Pub Immersed in Ownership Turmoil; Operating Since 1829  

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By: Daniela Doria

One of the oldest bars in America is located in New York City and has current drama.

In an exclusive report, The New York Post reports Andrew Bigan, 65, claims Loycent Gordon, who has been running the day-to-day operations at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven for years and spearheaded efforts to save the Queens watering hole, has shut him out of the business. The bar opened in 1829. Bigan, a realtor, became a 25% shareholder in Neir’s in 2009 with his wife, Melanie, who ran Neir’s for a few years before stepping away in 2012 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 2015.

New York Post reported Kathianne Boniello Gordon took over a 75% stake in Neir’s around that time, buying out two other shareholders and running the place. But despite keeping Neir’s going through tough times, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon was looking to get out of the business in 2019, according to Bigan’s Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.

The bar was founded in 1829 and, according to the current owners, is one of the oldest bars in the country, having been in nearly continuous operation since 1829 (except during Prohibition), under various names such as Blue Pump Room, Old Abbey, Neir’s Social Hall, and Union Course Tavern. Local historians noted that it was during Prohibition that it became a speakeasy. The bar was founded near the Union Course racetrack (extant 1821–1888) and hosted many track patrons during the track’s existence. The establishment was owned by the Neir family from 1898 to 1967, after which it went into decline and closed in 2009. A various time in its history, it featured a ballroom, hotel rooms and a bowling alley, Queens Tribune and Wikipedia reported

Gordon allegedly complained he was “always in the red” and “could never make enough money,” and asked Bigan to help him find someone to take over Neir’s, according to legal papers, according to Boniello of The New York Post.

The following year, with no warning, Gordon announced Neir’s would close — prompting a public outcry and an $80,000 grant from the city to save it, Bigan claims.

Gordon should be removed from the bar’s day-to-day operations, and it should be run by a neutral third party, said Bigan to The New York Post, who said he’s not been paid anything since Gordon took over and wants a judge to order an accounting of the business.

“My mission since 2009 has been and continues to be to keep historic Neir’s Tavern open and sustainable before, during, and after the pandemic,” he said in a statement, calling the bar “a labor of love.”

“Neir’s is an intrinsic part of the Woodhaven community, and we are grateful to all those who have supported us in Queens and beyond … I am extremely saddened that someone would make a blatant attempt for their own profit, that could jeopardize the future of Neir’s Tavern. We intend to defend Neir’s vigorously against these allegations.”

Gordon replied to The New York Post stating he denies all allegations.

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