In the shadows of Times Square, Langan’s Bar & Restaurant attracted a Damon Runyonesque crowd. Among the tourist groups and business meetings, you could usually find actors as well as journalists from the New York Post and anchors from Fox News. Unfortunately, the establishment’s faithful will now have to go somewhere else.
The Manhattan theater district pub is closing tonight after nearly 25 years in business. (The landlord, according to a story in the Post by Steve Cuozzo, has more than tripled its rent.) The watering hole will host one last private party and then shut its doors for good at 4 AM.
At the pub’s final happy hour last night, the boisterous crowd was a typical mix of TV anchors, families, regulars and even a priest. (There was also a group pouring over a presentation on a laptop seemingly oblivious to the occasion.) While the general manager, Terry Rickwell, jokingly called it “the last supper,” the scene was more reminiscent of an Irish wake with music blaring and pints being poured. If you had stumbled in, you might not have at first realized that the bar was closing.
But the diners in the back dining-room could choose one of the “Farewell Specials” advertised on an extra-large chalkboard, including Manhattan clam chowder, a BBQ baby back ribs salad appetizer and boneless braised short ribs and pan-seared tuna entrees.
The walls of Langan’s were famously covered with celebrity headshots and posters from Broadway shows, many of which were autographed and inscribed. Like the crowd, the ephemera was an interesting mix, including everything from an action shot of Dodger great Ralph Branca to a portrait of Oliver North. But by the early evening a number of the pictures had already been taken down and given to regulars or returned to the people who had donated them in the first place.
What’s left over will move one block away to the second floor of O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, which shares owners with Langan’s. The staff will also be shifted over and Rickwell is hoping the “ambiance” will be recreated.
Even with the phone ringing off the hook, and the bar packed two deep, Rickwell was kind enough to set the record straight about the persistent rumor that actor Michael Caine was a part owner of Langan’s: He’s not and never was an owner. Caine is involved with a restaurant in London with a similar name. She added that in her 19 years working at New York’s Langan’s she never saw him come in for a pint or some traditional Irish pub craic. And I guess now he’s missed his chance.