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Peter McManus Owner Expects to Renew Bar's Lease Amid Rumors of Closure

By Maya Rajamani | December 14, 2016 1:54pm
 Peter McManus Cafe at 152 Seventh Ave., at the corner of West 19th Street.
Peter McManus Cafe at 152 Seventh Ave., at the corner of West 19th Street.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — The owner of a beloved, century-old Irish pub rumored to be in danger of closing says he expects the building’s new owner to renew the bar's lease.

Since Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York reported that the decades-old Peter McManus Cafe on Seventh Avenue might soon be closing, hundreds of people have rallied around the bar by joining a “Coalition to #SaveMcManus” group on Facebook.

The Renatus Group dropped $10.5 million bid to buy the bar’s building, at the corner of 19th Street, this past spring, but bar owner Justin McManus said Tuesday that the company's plans are “up in the air.”

The firm's website previously stated that it planned to “redevelop the buildings to significantly improve cash flow,” The Real Deal reported.

“I think they were kind of just… exploring all their options on what they could do with the space,” McManus, 34, said of the The Real Deal report. “I think they’re not sure. They’re trying to figure it out.”

The building sale closed in April after the group initially purchased the site a few years ago, and the bar has been operating on a series of short-term leases with the group for the past two years, McManus explained.

The bar's current lease will run out in a few months, and McManus was scheduled to meet with the group Wednesday afternoon to negotiate an extension, he said.

“In the meantime, I believe [we’ll] able to get some short-term leases — nothing substantial, like a ten-year, like we’d obviously hoped for, but kind of on this six-month-to-a-year basis,” he said.

Securing a short-term lease, however, will likely be a "band-aid" for the bar, as the developer has expressed an interest in "eventually" putting a new building at the site, he noted in a post on the Facebook page.

"It doesn't solve our long-term problem of keeping the place there for your grandkids to hang out," he wrote.

The recent closing of the Chelsea Deli next door to the bar may have given patrons the idea that the pub would also be shuttering to make way for new development, but there are still tenants in “rent-stabilized situations” living above the bar, McManus said on Tuesday.

“A lot of places, old-school spots, seem to be shutting their doors, so it seems like that’s why people seem to be up in arms,” he told DNAinfo. “[But] I don’t think [Renatus Group is] ready to have their best income source leave the space, either.”

Representatives for the Renatus Group did not respond to requests for comment.

McManus, whose great-grandfather Peter McManus opened the original bar in 1911, said he appreciated the concerns that longtime patrons have expressed over the past few days. 

He believes the bar — which moved to its current location in the 1930s — is the oldest “still-in-the-same-family” bar in the city.

“[T]he outpouring of love that people have shown, just how much people care about the place, has been very humbling, and overwhelming,” he said. “I’m obviously touched that my family’s business means so much to the community.”