SUNNYSIDE — Longtime Irish pub P.J. Horgan's has permanently closed its doors, according to the owner of the building, who's planning to build housing at the site of the now-shuttered Queens Boulevard bar.
Landlord John Ciafone said the owners of the pub "pretty much surrendered the property" to him recently, several months after a small grease fire broke out in the bar's kitchen, he said.
"They decided to go," said Ciafone, who said the bar closed at least six months ago after the fire, though he said it did little damage.
The bar had a lease on the space that was good until 2018, he added.
"We worked out some numbers and they left," he said.
Ciafone, an Astoria attorney, bought the property at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 43rd Street at the end of 2012 in order to build residential apartments at the site, with retail stores on the ground floor.
But he said P.J. Horgan's was initially going to remain in its space until at least the end of its lease, and that he'd planned to build his development next to and above the longtime bar.
"They had a lease in effect. We were planning to do construction with them existing, and that was that," Ciafone said. "That was their decision to leave. We didn't push them out."
Now that the bar has vacated the space, he says he'll likely tear it down to make way for his new development.
He also plans to demolish Sunnyside Center Cinemas, a small movie theater that closed earlier this year, and the former Dime Bank building on the corner.
The FDNY did not return an inquiry about the fire at the building, and the bar's owners did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The Sunnyside Post first reported on the bar's closing. It's not clear what exact year the pub originally opened, though newspaper clippings mention P.J. Horgan's as early as 1989.
The bar's Facebook page is filled with positive reviews and comments from customers, including one expressing dismay over the bar's closure, calling it "devastating news."
"Please, please consider finding a new location in Sunnyside," she wrote. "We need you!"
Ciafone said plans are still being developed for the site, though he said they are hoping to include affordable housing as part of the residential units.
He said he's also planning to include public parking underground, and possibly make one of the ground floor commercial spaces available to a community facility like a daycare or senior center.
"Whatever it is is going to be very nice," he said.