The Real Deal New York

Irish pubs tapped out as rents climb, tastes change

Blarney Stone chain drops from 30 citywide locales to five
May 19, 2014 08:00AM

As rents climb and tastes veer increasingly toward craft beers and gourmet food offerings, New York City’s Irish pubs — which currently number around 2,000 — are on the decline.

Recent casualties include the Blarney Cove at 510 East 14th Street, Dewey’s Flatiron at 230 Fifth Avenue and O’Flaherty’s at 334 West 46th Street in the Theater District. And Blarney Stone, a chain that once counted 30 locations around the city, is now down to five.

“You’ve got to change with the times,” Paul Hurley, president of the United Restaurant & Tavern Owners of New York, who formerly owned Irish pub Kennedy’s at 327 West 57th Street, told Crain’s.

Soaring commercial rental rates couple with a tricky balance for these establishments, which cater to a clientele seeking a certain kind of experience with mainstays such as Guinness stout. That particular Irish institution had a “difficult year” in the U.S. in 2013, as the iconic stout faced “increased competition from new entrants in flavored beer,” the brew’s London-based owner Diageo told Crain’s.

“Given the type of cuisine and the prices people expect at Irish bars — no $18 cocktails, which help boost margins — the numbers just can’t add up,” Faith Hope Consolo, chair of Douglas Elliman’s retail group, told Crain’s. “It’s rough for Irish bars right now.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland