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

After serving the Woodhaven community for 190 years, Neir’s Tavern is shutting its doors on Sunday, Jan. 12. 

It was an emotional scene Wednesday night inside the historic tavern, located at the corner of 87-48 78th St. as patrons heard the news that Neirs will no longer be open for business due to the cost of rising rent. 

“I’ve been unable to obtain an affordable long term lease to reach our goal of the 200th anniversary in 2029,” Neir’s Owner, Loycent Gordon, said in an email. “I’m operating month to month with an unaffordable rent and insufficient sales to overcome a year of losing money every month. I hope my Neir’s Team will be here until Sunday in the event a miracle happens. But I have no more money after Sunday.”

Gordon, an immigrant from Jamaica and FDNY firefighter, purchased the business in 2010 and restored the interior, he wasn’t the owner of the building. In 2019, the Neirs 190 Committee was formed to preserve and protect the tavern following the sale of the building, which raised concerns among locals. 

In a previous statement to QNS, Gordon said the building was sold for $1.35 million, and they were hoping to reach an agreement with the new landlord that would ensure Neirs would last for another 190 years. 

There were also efforts led by organizers and elected officials to have Neir’s recognized as a designated landmark status by the NYC Landmark Preservation Commission, which was denied since it “did not rise to the level of an interior landmark.”

Neir’s Tavern is known as the oldest tavern in the U.S. and Queens that has been a fixture in the Woodhaven community since 1829, according to Robb MacKay, of the Queens Tourism Council. 

“Without doubt, this is crushing news for people who love great bars and Queens history. Everybody from Civil War veterans to Hollywood stars to wacky neighborhood regulars have gathered at Neir’s over the years,” McKay said. “We all lose, but at the same time, we should thank the owner, Loy Gordon. He poured his heart and soul into the establishment and it would have closed down many years ago without him.” 

Ed Wendell, executive director of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, said he plans to join other locals this Saturday night at the tavern for a final celebration. 

“This is a death in the family…this hurts a lot. This is something that was a source of pride for people in our community, even if you never went there,” said Wendell. “It’s karaoke night and we’re going to go and have fun that we have there everytime we go. It’s another Saturday night and that’s what made the place special, going there and having a good time with your friends.”

The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society issued a statement on social media about the upcoming closure of Neir’s. 

“This is not just a hurtful loss to Woodhaven, but also a loss to the history of New York City. It’s disappointing that our city didn’t show enough interest in preserving this site, in any form, for future generations. Our thanks go out to the Gordon family — Loycent, Aisha and Evan — for restoring Neirs and making it shine for residents of Woodhaven, both past and present, and it will continue to be, even if it only lives on in our memories.” 

Meanwhile, State Assemblyman Michael Miller described Neir’s as a “staple in the Woodhaven community.”

“Neir’s wasn’t just a watering hole, but an institution in Woodhaven for the past 190 years. Besides being featured in one of the most iconic films in the 20th century, “Goodfellas,” Neir’s brought people together, with their comedy and trivia nights and their annual Halloween partie,” Miller said in a statement. It was the Cheers of our town. I want to thank Loy Gordon for owning and operating Neir’s for the past decade and bringing Woodhaven together.”

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