Day 215—Thursday, August 12th, 2010
P & G Bar
When I first moved to New York in July of 1993, I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I lived on Broadway near 75th street. One block over and two blocks down was the corner of Amsterdam and 73rd. And housed on that corner was the infamous P & G Bar. The joint was a legendary watering hole on the Upper West Side with a glorious, blazing neon sign. The bar and the sign were so iconic they were used in lots of movies and TV shows. Two of them that spring to mind are Seinfeld and the film Donnie Brasco, but I’m sure there’s many more.
I lived there for four years and it was my go-to joint for a quick beer or six. The bartenders were gruff but friendly and the regulars perched around the perimeter of the bar were the same. A beer and a shot crowd. If you wanted something to eat, there were bags of chips behind the bar. There were wooden booths on the opposite side of the bar, but that’s mainly where the college kids drank their pitchers of beer and cranked out tunes on the jukebox. The bar was the place to sit at the P&G.
I moved downtown to 16th street in the summer of 1998 and didn’t venture uptown nearly as often. About a year went by without me stepping foot in the joint. I remember one day I had the urge to go visit my old watering hole, so I took the subway uptown to my old neighborhood on the Upper West Side. I walked in and the bartender (I can’t remember his name), said, “Where you been? I haven’t seen you in a couple weeks.” I told him I had moved and it had been over a year. He just shook his head and served me a beer. The crowd around the bar hadn’t changed much. It never did.
But then the shoe fell. In 2008 the P & G’s landlord had the need for greed, lowered the boom and kicked them out. I heard it was closing and went and had a final beer before Christmas that year and it was definitely a blue Christmas in the old P & G. I had heard rumors that they would reopen, but I never heard that they did and considered it one more casualty in a city that’s ushering in and welcoming way too many chain stores and restaurants. But last week someone told me they had reopened and I did some seraching and it’s true! The sign didn’t make it, I guess it was too old to make the trip, but what the fuck, let’s go check out the new P & G. Just click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like the P & G Bar!”
Here's where the old P & G once stood. How sad, no more neon on this corner.
But travel one block over...
And you hit Columbus Avenue.
And it's five easy blocks to...
The new P & G Bar! The sign isn't neon, but it'll due for now.
The new space has live music with no cover. There's three bands tonight.
So let's go down and check it out.
The big wooden doors open to...
The new P & G! It looks great in here. Nice brick walls and a spacious wooden bar.
There's a familiar face behind the bar.
It's fourth generation owner, Steve Chahalis. A good guy and a friendly bartender. He told me he recogonized me from the old days on 73rd and Amsterdam.
Here we are, partying like it's 1993!
Part of the front of the bar with some lit up bottles.
A booth in the front of the bar.
And more booths run along the brick wall opposite the bar. The booths were taken from the original location to bring along a little charm from the original joint.
Jennie, Shannon and Jen were whooping it up at the bar. Thanks for flashing the 365 card, Jen!
Mark was at the end of the bar, cutting up a can of bourbon cake. He offered me a slice...
But I decided to check the can for any bourbon spillage.
Mike's a familiar face because he was a regular at the old P & G.
Here's Steve, taking care of business at the bar.
A framed photo of the original P & G hangs in the center of the bar.
And the original bar is not gone. The original wooden resting well lines the room in the back.
Here's a long shot of the rail. I spent many nights with my elbows resting on this piece of wood.
There's a pool table in the back room as well.
The middle of the room is where the bands play and there's never a cover charge for the music.
Fausto and the Fabulous Faustones were one of the bands playing and they were great.
Some West Point Cadets donated this hat to the new P & G.
Steve with waitress Sabrina.
And there's still potato chips behind the bar! Nice to see some things never change. Goodnight, everybody!
The P & G is now a bar located across the street from the Museum of Natural History. It’s now a basement bar and they managed to carry the spirit and feeling of the old P & G to the new bar. They also carried the wooden booths here and part of the original bar railing runs along the wall in the back room where a pool table is housed. There’s a room in the middle with live music and no cover charge for it. Last year Steven Tyler from Aerosmith jumped up on stage and sang “Long Tall Sally” with Renee and the Derelicts and drummer Anton Fig from the David Letterman Show has been known to show up and jam.
The drinks remain the same as in the old joint. A full bar, but nothing fancy. A good selection of bottled and draft beers, all moderately priced. There’s also wine and the drinks are poured stiffly. There’s a daily happy hour from noon to 6pm featuring two for one well drinks and a dollar off everything else.
The P & G bar continues to thrive in all its glory. Fourth generation owner Steve Chahalis owns and runs the bar (his dad retired four months ago) and is the nightly bartender. So fuck the greedy landlord that threw them out of the old space and stop by and help keep the P & G an institution on the Upper West Side. They’ve paid their dues and belong in the neighborhood. I, for one, am thrilled they didn’t say die, when their asshole landlord gave them the boot. Long live the P & G!
P & G Bar
380 Columbus Ave. (Near 78th St.)
P.S. Since it's Friday the 13th, I'm buying some Mega-Millions tickets. If I win I'll fly all the 365 "regulars" (you know who you are), out here to New York, put you up at a hotel and we will go nuts! I'm going out to get tickets now, wish me luck!