A Famous New York Tavern That’s Been Around Since 1829 Is Now Caribbean Owned

A scene from 'Goodfellas' that was filmed at Neir's Tavern. (Neir's Tavern image)

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By NAN Travel Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 19, 2018: A New York tavern that first opened its doors in 1829 and has been featured in many Hollywood films, including ‘Goodfellas,’ is now in the capable hands of a Caribbean immigrant.

Loycent “Loy” Gordon, a Jamaican national turned New York City Lieutenant in the FDNY, bought the Woodhaven-based Neir’s Tavern in January 2009, along with two other investors, three days before the bar was about to close for good.

Gordon then became sole owner in 2013 and said he is incredibly proud to be part of the bar’s history. He noted that although it is expensive to maintain a structure, he wouldn’t want to “diminish its soul.”

Loycent Gordon, the Jamaican-born owner of the historic Neir’s Tavern.

The historic tavern has become a Queen institution over the past 189 years. It’s the “The Most Famous Bar You’ve Never Heard Of” declares PBS TV of the tavern, located at 87-48 78th St. in Woodhaven NY.

The late Anthony Bourdain also visited Neir’s and said: “It’s historic for a lot of reasons, not least, in my mind, because the greatest American film ever made was shot here.”

Neir’s has remained true to itself, quietly serving cold beer to local customers and a delicious well-tailored American style menu that includes the “Goodfella” Burger, the Mae “West” burger and the Ben Stiller Veggie burger.

It belies the history of Neir, which has been featured on many scenes in the venerable ‘Goodfellas,’ which was filmed at Neir’s with Robert Deniro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and many more stepping into Neir’s to play out their roles. Neir’s has also been featured on “Tower Heist” with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy and on the Emmy Awarded show “New York Originals.”

Mae West also performed there and American comedian, actor, juggler and writer, WC Fields, and Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, were regulars.

In its beginnings at 1829, Neir’s was called The Blue Pump Room and owned by Cadwallader R. Colden, manager of the Union Course Race Track. Louis Neir took over in 1898 and it made into a speakeasy and then later upgraded it with a ballroom, a bowling alley, and an upstairs hotel under the name of Neir’s Social Hall, which was rumored to also function as a brothel.

In this period, Neir’s Social Hall was renowned as a center for socialization, entertainment and performances and was most notably the site of Mae West’s singing career.

In 1967, the new ownership renamed the place as the Union Course Tavern.

Gordon is only the fifth owner. He was partially responsible in giving the tavern back the Neir’s namesake and completely refurbishing the place. In its renovation, much of the antique items, including gas lamps and old-school beer funnel system, were preserved. As of today, the former ballroom and social rooms are a neighboring martial arts classroom and music recording studio.

Gordon has been actively trying to get landmark status for the tavern but so far has not been successful. Still he insists that the bar, “is something for the neighborhood and the fabric of New York City.”

“Queens is the last hold out for true New York City,” and “Neirs is a microcosm of the part of NYC we’re trying to preserve,” he told th Tribune.

For more see neirstavern.com.