Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat gathered Sunday afternoon with a broad coalition of uptown Manhattan elected officials, Community Board members, and neighbors.
The locally-owned, 33-year-old pub was slated to close after lease renewal negotiations broke down. The restaurant was faced with an unsustainable rent increase of roughly $40,000 per month, but after a massive community outcry, its landlord, New York-Presbyterian Hospital came back to the negotiating table and the two sides arrived at an agreement.
“The entire community spoke out, and New York-Presbyterian listened,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I want to thank New York-Presbyterian for setting a great example, recognizing that killing a local treasure like Coogan’s is bad business, and coming back to the table to do the right thing. I’m pleased that Rep. Espaillat and I could help, but this victory belongs to the entire neighborhood which spoke with one voice.”
“Coogan’s Restaurant has been instrumental in efforts to revitalize our community and they invested in Washington Heights when no one else would,” said U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “Coogan’s has been a stalwart in the Heights for more than 30 years, and I am proud to have had a small role in the community’s efforts to keep Coogan’s around for 30 years more. I commend New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Coogan’s on the recent handshake agreement reached, and I look forward to the significant contributions the restaurant will continue to have throughout our community for many more years to come.”
Coogan’s opened in 1985, when crime in Washington Heights was dramatically higher and the neighborhood was noted as a center for the city’s drug trade. Over the years the pub became an unofficial neighborhood headquarters, frequented by everyone from area running clubs to hospital employees, activists, power brokers, and rising artistic talents like Lin-Manuel Miranda. “Our tribe is everybody,” Coogan’s ownership partner Peter Walsh told WNYC in an interview, and posters of both President John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández Reyna can be found on the walls.
“I’m thrilled by this news. Coogan’s is more than an iconic establishment for our city — it’s part of the fabric of the neighborhood. As someone who grew up in Washington Heights, this is a heartwarming relief,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “This is a victory for all the local residents who spoke out because they cared about their city and their community. And it’s another reminder that we need to stay focused on mitigating our affordability crisis — it’s affecting the character of our neighborhoods and the people within them. That’s why this is such an important win in the fight for a fairer City.”
“I am very pleased that an agreement has been reached to keep Coogan’s open, keeping this Uptown institution in operation for the long term,” said State Senator Marisol Alcantara. “This is an example of how political pressure can be successfully applied to help one’s community. I want to thank Ydanis Rodríguez, Gale Brewer, Adriano Espaillat, Carmen De La Rosa, and New York-Presbyterian hospital, who listened to the opinions of the community.”
“We are glad that Coogan’s and New York Presbyterian Hospital reached a lease renewal agreement in an amicable manner. Coogan’s, a historically community friendly restaurant has managed to thrive through the bad, the good, and the better times of Washington Heights for over thirty years. They have been and still are a culturally rich and welcoming establishment to all demographics that embody this vibrant community. It is very gratifying to see how the community rapidly came together to voice and show their support for Coogan’s to remain open. Their regular operation is far beyond food service; usually hosting community oriented events like comedy clubs, health and sports related activities, birthdays, and social group gatherings,” said Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa. “We look forward to having Coogan’s for years to come.”
“Coogan’s is our Cheers in Washington Heights. Dave and Peter know everyone, and everyone knows Dave and Peter,” said Assemblymember Al Taylor. “Coogan’s put their stake in the ground when it was not fashionable to invest in this neighborhood, and I wish to see them here for decades to come.”
“As we know all too well, our small businesses uptown are under threat. Far too often we see locally owned stores that we have known for years, be replaced by corporate chains and banks. That is why this victory is a moment not only to celebrate, but to show our strength as a community”, said Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. “Thank you to the entire Northern Manhattan community, Coogan’s loyal customers, the Miranda family, and colleagues. Due to your advocacy and support Coogan’s has been saved. They will continue to be a community staple in Washington Heights, where it belongs, to our future generations.”
“I’m thrilled Coogan’s will be staying open, and wish more small businesses could see victories like this one,” said Community Board 12 Chair Shahabuddeen Ally. “Particularly in Upper Manhattan, we are finding many mom-and-pop stores as well as minority-owned stores closing because of exorbitant rent increases. We must continue to push for commercial rent protection to help save our businesses.”