After nearly 50 years, popular Garrison pub faces last call
Barbara Livingston Nackman
30 January 2008
The Journal News (White Plains, NY)
(c) Copyright 2008, The Journal News. All Rights Reserved.
GARRISON - After nearly a half-century of slinging beer and coffee, Garrison's famed Irish bar and newspaper stand is calling it quits.
This time it's for real. Guinan's Pub and Country Store at Garrison Depot almost closed in January 2007, but the family rallied and stuck it out for another year.
Last call really is tomorrow.
"It is just time, the right time," said Margaret Guinan, daughter of founder Jim Guinan. "It is hard to pack up 50 years of things."
The bar was started by Jim Guinan in 1959, a year after he moved to New York from Ireland with his four children. He has battled diabetes for a while, but is feeling well. He is eager to visit relatives in Ireland and England, and then settle near his youngest child in Florida to play golf. He has been living in an apartment attached to the Depot.
He has two grown children living nearby who can no longer take on the load. Margaret Guinan is a police officer and her brother, John, is recovering from a brain tumor but enjoying a new grandchild and the marriage of his daughter.
There is no word about what will happen to the property.
Garrison Station Plaza has said it will make renovations to the space that offers Hudson River views. It features 1950s-era floor tiles and a kitchen and bath shared by the apartment and store.
Longtime customer Mary Ellen Yannitelli said she will make a proposal to keep it going.
"I would want it to be as true to Guinan's as I possibly could," she said of its newspaper and sundry items in the front and beer bar in the back fireplace room.
"It is just so special. We will see what happens. In the meantime, I would like to be there every night to take it all in," she added.
Yannitelli and other longtime customers are expected to toast the Guinan family and say so long to their home away from home.
For the last time, they will get to hear Irish music on the banks of the Hudson River. Traditionally, Guinan's hosted music night once a month on the Thursday after a full moon, which was last week. One last round of "Danny Boy" seemed appropriate, Margaret Guinan said.
Writer Gwendolyn Bounds captured the essence of the neighborhood pub in her book "Little Chapel on the River." A Wall Street Journal columnist and editor, she was introduced to the place days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when she came to Garrison for respite and was so comforted there that she moved to the hamlet.
About the closing, she said she is sad for the loss, but glad for the Guinan experience.
"We've known this day was coming for a year now, but that doesn't make the grieving any less. When I think about the doors closing this Thursday, I feel like all the air's gone out of me, so I stop thinking about it. Mostly what I've learned is to be grateful for the time we've got with places and people we love. And I'm grateful to the Guinans, Jim Guinan especially, for opening up their home to the world," she said.
Reach Barbara Livingston Nackman at bnackman@LoHud.com or 845-228-2272.