FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Moran's bar and restaurant will serve its last beer Friday night, ending a 25-year run on Washington Street just two blocks south of the World Trade Center.
Owners Brian and Abby Lydon were forced to close the bar after years of falling revenues, Abby Lydon said.
"It was a difficult choice," Lydon said as she surveyed the mostly empty dining room Thursday afternoon. "We love our customers."
The Irish bar's business never fully rebounded after 9/11, and the 2008 recession made things worse, she said. The final straw was the start of construction on a new high-rise hotel next-door, which inundated the wood-paneled dining room with noise.
Regulars and neighbors were dismayed to hear of the closure and said they would miss the opulent furnishings, home-cooked food and friendly atmosphere that made Moran's unlike any other establishment downtown.
"It's the worst," said an upset Bryan Moss, 35, a financial advisor who has been eating shepherd's pie at Moran's for the past 10 years. "They're not going to build anything like this around here. It's all ritzy places."
Moss said he would miss the annual gathering at Moran's on the anniversary of 9/11, when the bar is packed five deep with firefighters, police officers and former World Trade Center office workers, who all raise pints together and remember the friends they lost.
"They're not going to the W Hotel," Moss said, gesturing to the new luxury skyscraper across the street. "They're going to a place like this."
Lydon said her husband was working at Moran's on 9/11 and pulled dozens of fleeing survivors into the bar to shelter them from the collapsing towers. Photos of the aftermath show the block coated in white ash and shredded paper.
The anniversary gatherings started organically, as people naturally gravitated toward the place where they had once enjoyed drinks with the friends they lost. Initially somber, the get-togethers in recent years have grown more upbeat, as people toast their memories and the continuing recovery of downtown, Lydon said.
This year, the survivors will have to find somewhere else to go.
Lydon doled out hugs and words of comfort to regulars who stopped in to say goodbye on Thursday, reassuring them that Moran's might reopen someday, perhaps once all the neighborhood's construction is finally completed.
"Anything is possible," she said. "We're still hopeful…. But it will definitely be a minimum of three years."
The Lydons own the bar's landmarked building at 103 Washington St., a former church, and they split their time between an apartment there and a home on Long Island. They have no plans to sell the building, Abby Lydon said.
Ro Sheffe, chairman of Community Board 1's Financial District Committee, called the closing of Moran's a "tragedy" for downtown.
"It's emblematic of everything that's been happening in the past few years," Sheffe said. "We've lost so many small mom-and-pop businesses, and every one pains me."
Regulars are invited to stop by Moran's for one last drink this Friday evening.