Queens tavern owner seeks landmark status for 'Goodfellas' bar

Sandy Kenyon Image
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Queens tavern owner seeks landmark status for 'Goodfellas' bar
Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has the details.

WOODHAVEN, Queens (WABC) -- Neir's Tavern is one of the oldest bars in New York City, and you've probably seen in movies but never realized it was right here in our area.

Neir's has occupied the same space in Woodhaven, Queens, for more than 180 years, and now, there's a move to get that history recognized.

The guy who rescued it likes to say it's "the most famous bar you've never heard of," but given its rich history, that just doesn't seem right.

It could be any one of the 1,700 bars in the city, but it first opened in 1829 and regulars like to call it the oldest tavern in the five boroughs. That claim may be in dispute, but there's no arguing its place in film history.

More than a quarter century has passed since Robert De Niro smoked at Neir's as one of the "Goodfellas" who planned the famed Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport, but the bar remains almost exactly the same.

Loycent Gordon is one of the city's Bravest, a lieutenant in the FDNY, and the story of how he saved the bar is worthy of its own movie.

"It was only three days away from closing forever," he said. "We were going to lose the city's oldest bar, and I didn't want that to happen. And no one stood up for it, so that's why I got involved to try and save it."

It is said the legendary Mae West, from Bushwick, got her start at Neir's, but despite all the history, there's still been no official designation by the city granting landmark status.

"The Landmark Preservation Commission says, quote, Neir's Tavern does not rise to the level of significance to warrant landmark status," Gordon said.

But he's not giving up and still hopes to write his own Hollywood ending.

There's a petition at the bar for patrons to sign asking the commission to reconsider, and Gordon is preparing another application for landmark status.