Neir’s Tavern receives national grant for historic restaurants recovering from COVID economic hardship

The exterior of Neir's Tavern in 2016
Photo courtesy of Flickr user The Whistling Monkey

The historic Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven is getting a much-needed cash infusion to help it stay afloat as the city begins its post-COVID reopening.

The 191-year-old bar and grill, one of the oldest establishments in the five boroughs, is one of 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants across the United States to be recognized with a $40,000 grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Neir’s Tavern is so grateful to be included as an American Express and National Trust for Historic Preservation grant recipient,” Neir’s Tavern owner Loycent Gordon said. “As the oldest establishment on the list, we appreciate that these organizations are spotlighting the need to preserve historic small businesses across the country.”

Established in 1829, Neir’s Tavern survived the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, two world wars and the Great Depression, but nearly went out of business in 2020 until the de Blasio administration helped broker a new deal to keep the doors open. The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for the establishment as it draws closer to its bicentennial.

“As we struggle to survive our second pandemic, this grant will ensure that Neir’s Tavern’s outdoor area is not only maintained but enhanced,” Gordon said.

The “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” funding will help each of the 25 historic establishments enhance restaurant exteriors, build new outdoor seating areas, and upgrade online businesses to help mitigate operating costs as they work to recover from the pandemic.

“Historic small restaurants are cultural treasures that strengthen their communities and carry their legacies and traditions forward in deeply meaningful ways,” National Trust Chief Preservations Officer Katherine Malone-France said. “These restaurants have demonstrated their resiliency for decades, and even while dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic, they have continued to support their communities in many ways.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon established a customer community group called Neir’s 200 to feed hundreds of community members, conducted antibody testing and cardiovascular screenings for people who were avoiding medical facilities.

“We are honored to play a role in supporting these historic small restaurants that have served their communities for decades,” American Express Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Jennifer Skyler said. “This program expands our legacy of backing small businesses by helping to preserve these iconic restaurants and support their recovery from the pandemic so they can continue to welcome customers for years to come.”

As part of the grant program, American Express’ partners will also provide support to the historic small restaurants in areas their businesses need most.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this outstanding initiative and support these historical small restaurants with innovative products and services that will help them pivot to doing business in new ways,” AT&T National Business & Channels President Stacey Marx said. “These are places just down the street where our communities come together, and we’re honored to help them build brand loyalty through a digital customer experience.”

Neir’s Tavern served as the original location for the Martin Scorcese crime classic “Goodfellas” and Ben Stiller’s “Tower Heist.” It was also frequented by Mae West, who got her start in the old ballroom.

“Like all small businesses, these restaurants and their employees represent the backbone of the U.S. economy and are at the hearts of our neighborhoods,” Dell Technologies Senior Vice President Erik Day said. “In a year when so many businesses have been tested, we’re standing alongside these historic restaurants and providing them solutions that will help them upgrade their digital business capabilities, drive efficiencies and improve their customer service.”