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Oct 29, 2001 05:51 PM

What Happened to The North Star?

  • c

I've been away. Don't ask!

I'm finally able to come back for a few days and I learn that the North Star Pub is closed. Does anyone know what happened?

I'd really appeciate any info.


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  1. You've been away a while. I was the manager of North Star for the past 17 years, and I was the one who locked the door for the last time on January 6th.

    What happened is a long story. The short version is we tried to expand into the store next to us where Sloppy Louie's had been. A long and complicated lease negotiation was further complicated by an inter-agency dispute between the building and fire departments regarding the emergency exits in what would have been the combined old and new spaces. This all took three years, during which our financing dried up and my boss decided he was too old to take the risk of putting down a personal guarantee. Our lease was running down (it would have ended in May of this year) and the landlord accused us of having negotiated in bad faith and told us they would not renew the lease. As we lost money every winter we decided not to take the losses this year as we would have no time to make the money back. We made the difficult and painful decision to close.

    I hope this answers your question. I've kept in touch with several of the staff and we're all -- ten months later -- still in a bit of shock about what happened.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Deven Black

      Hi Deven,

      It was about 17 years ago that my English husband came to NY for the first time, working at Pru Bache for BT and drinking with "the lads" at the North Star at lunch (as the Brits do). I met him that week, and though he claimed to hate NYC back then, at least he could get a pint at lunch.

      1. re: lucia

        Chances are I know your husband by face if not by name. We prided ourselves on being more London than NYC, although our spiritual location in the UK drifted north from time to time, particularly in 1990-1991 when we might as well have been in Blackpool thanks to my co-manager at the time.

        What really made the North Star special -- at least for me -- was the stability of the staff. When we closed about half our staff had been with us for ten or more years, and all but one of the rest more than five years. Chances are you could come in for a month one year, stay away for five years, and come back in again to the same bartender or waitress who would remeber what it was you drank.

      2. re: Deven Black

        What a sad story.
        I passed the North Star a few weeks ago. I could not believe it was closed. All the chairs and table still in place.
        Here we are 11 months later and the owner of the building hasn't collected a nickel in rent. An empty building is aways more of a fire hazard then an occupied one. Who won?

        1. re: Shoeman

          I've inquired both directly and through a third party about taking over the North Star and continuing to operate it as it had been run the past 17 years. It would need a bit of renovation (the kitchen needs to be redone, some of the woodwork replaced, the banquettes recovered, and those terribly small bathrooms made a bit more friendly) but I know I could raise the $$$ for that from former customers. The landlord really wants to combine North Star with the Sloppy Louie's space and will not talk to anyone who does not want to do that. I no longer think it is a feasible idea and would not invest the $$ in that even if I could raise it.

        2. re: Deven Black

          Deven, do you know of any spots in Manhattan that come close to approximating the 'British experience" of The North Star? (I do love Myers & Keswick for groceries!)I lived in London for a bit, years ago, and have never found a NY spot that duplicates the casual cameraderie of the pub.

          1. re: AliceJ

            In the past two or so years a range of British and Irish pubs have opened on the lower reaches of Front Street and Pearl Street. I have not been to many of these places more than once, do not recall any of the names, and while they all impressed me as fairly pubby they did not have the same feel as the North Star to me, but then I was very biased.

            What the North Star had, and what these other places lacked, was the rest of humanity (besides Financial District suits) that came in. What made North Star was the mix of people: tourists, Brits on holiday, ex-pats, Financial District types, truck drivers, TV production crews, etc. It was a wonderful melange.

            1. re: Deven Black

              Thanks, Deven. You're so right. It's the 'people' that make a place special. As a native New Yorker, I love most everything about my city, but as an "Anglophile," gotta admit, it sure is tough to find a "local."

        3. Stopped by The British Open last night and it was closed with a "FOR RENT" sign slapped over the doorway. We sure were near tears, so thirsty were we for a crisp pint of Fuller's.