Meath native Eddie Travers has been forced to close the doors of the historic Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street in New York City, the oldest bar and tavern in the city, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The tavern was built in 1763 and frequented by George Washington among others.
The situation “is not good at all" said owner Eddie Travers, almost two weeks after Superstorm Sandy rolled through the tri-state area claiming lives and bringing about massive property loss.
The massive storm left his business at Fraunces Tavern, which he and his wife have owned for just over a year, in disrepair as damage to the gas lines there have forced the establishment to close.
The Tavern was renovated just over a year ago by the Porterhouse Brewing Company, whose location in Temple Bar in Dublin is famed for their original brews. Fraunces Tavern in New York City proudly brought the Irish brews stateside.
The Porterhouse Brewing Company boasts that Fraunces Tavern serves what they “think is possibly the only genuine Irish stout that is brewed in Dublin that is available in the United States.”
The Tavern is also famed for its historical relevance. Established as a tavern in 1762 it was here that General George Washington entertained his officers after a victory over Britain during the Revolutionary War.
Jessica Baldwin, Director of the Fraunces Tavern Museum, said, “The storm surge flooded all five basements and caused about two feet of water damage to the above street level first floor. All the upper floors came through the storm unharmed, including the Museum spaces and the rooms where the collection is stored.”
The historical landmark and proud merging place of Irish and American cultures has a tough road of repair in front of it after Sandy. Travers said that he has no current income now that the Tavern is closed; he said that soon “the pot will be dry” and he will be forced to start laying off his staff of about 45 people.
FEMA won’t be able to help Travers and his currently shuttered business, either. When the bar owner first spoke with a FEMA representative who had came to see the damage at Fraunces Tavern, Travers was told they would be covered. However, when Travers began the process, FEMA said they were not providing aid to businesses, only personal losses like homes and cars.
Travers thinks he may able to get a loan for repairs through the small businesses portion of FEMA, but said that the process is very slow. That’s news that doesn’t bode well for a bar owner who is already having to lay off staff.
Surprisingly, the businesses in and around the Stone Street district where Fraunces Tavern is located are open and operating. Not surprisingly, Travers believes that the local businesses have taken a hit and aren’t drawing their usual traffic, as only construction workers and some business people are in the downtown Manhattan area as of late.
He estimates about 30 percent of the workplaces in the area are still without power, which of course, make a dent in the amount of people who will be in the area to stop in for lunches and dinners during and after work hours.
Travers says that getting Fraunces Tavern back and operating at full speed will be like beginning a new business from the ground up, and that it will be difficult. Plenty of money and time are going to be consumed in the process, with what currently appears to be little or slow help from FEMA.
The distressed bar owner said that he’s received support from the Dublin side of The Porterhouse Brewing company, that they’ve been over and have done everything they can to help. Still, the process seems daunting, especially when time and money don’t appear to be on Travers’ side.