There aren’t too many bars in the United States where you can sit down and feel at home talking about track. The Wild Duck in Eugene and Coogan’s in New York City are the first two that come to mind. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Coogan’s is set to close its doors on Broadway and West 169th street in May.
The bar is located just down the street from the Armory Track and Field Center and has become a traditional meet-up spot to grab a pint after a personal best or catch a glimpse of your favorite professional runners. Coogan’s spirit for track and field can be found all over its walls with Sports Illustrated covers, and pictures of iconic races from the Armory can be found on the walls while singlets from various running clubs hang from the rafters. Alan Webb went there after his high school sub-four minute mile. Just two years ago, Drew Hunter did the same to celebrate his own achievement. Running culture is alive through its doors.
“They want about $40,000 a month more,” David Hunt, one of three partners in Coogan’s, told The Times. “That’s not remotely doable. Right now, we are paying all our bills every week, and that’s about it. But when we leave at the end of May, not one employee, not one vendor, not one tax will be unpaid.”
$40,000 a month or $480,000 a year to pay up is no joke. Gentrification is a real thing and it’s making its way through one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan.
The Times piece also details how the bar was a place where families could take shelter or congregate when other parts of the neighborhood were affected by the high crime rate of the 80s. The bar used to sponsor the “Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K” with participants running through Washington Heights. The name of the race is just further credence to the diversity found at Coogan’s, which makes it even more New York. It’s an Irish-named bar in a Dominican neighborhood with the occasional blues, karaoke and comedy night and frequented by med students, runners, policemen, firefighters, politicians and even Lin-Manuel Miranda.
It’s not just the runners that are going to miss this bar, but it may be the running community that appreciates it the most in the coming months. There’s a full indoor season with many meets at the Armory scheduled. That’s good enough for one last round before closing time.
A petition has been started demanding that New York Presbyterian offer Coogan’s a renewal lease at a rent that will allow them to remain open. You can sign the petition on Change.org
The petition also mentions that there will be a rally at noon on Sunday, which will be attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, and other community leaders.