I was soaking up some beer and some old-New-York, late-night atmosphere at the doomed Upper West Side water hole known as the P & G Cafe the other night when I heard some hopeful news regarding the place. As has been reported here and elsewhere, P & G's landlord has been hounding the 66-year-old tavern for a couple years news, and has set its get-out day for New Year's Eve, 2008. Anyone who visits the place knows that the clock is ticking on one of Manhattan's last great regular-bar bars.
But, as I gathered from the talk flying between myself, a couple regulars at the bar, and proprietor Steve Chahalis—a friendly bear of a man who has the build of a Hell's Angel and a taste in headbanger music to match—there is reason to hope. Steve was holding court behind the bar. No, the landlord hasn't changed his mind. In fact, it looks like a Baby Gap has emerged as the highest bidder on the corner space. But Steve is sanguine that P & G will rise again in another locality nearby.
He has been scouting out a variety of spaces and feels confident his family's bar will have a new home by years' end, with the old wooden bar and possibly the great neon sign going with him. Things have changed since the real estate market's gone soft and landlords are more willing to entertain Chahalis' queries. There was even talk of a long range plan to buy a building. Things appear to be so in P & G's favor that Chahalis is taking his time, waiting until he finds the right space with everything he's looking for (including an oval bar to replace the current one-sided item).
Needless to say, this all made me very happy—for Chahalis, for his dedicated patrons, for the City as a whole, for me. I will be crossing my finger for P & G until the end of the year.