Coogan’s Restaurant will live to see another lease.
Owners of the Washington Heights mainstay reached an agreement with their landlord Friday afternoon around 4:30 p.m., two days after announcing the eatery would shut its doors in May due to a monthly rent increase of $40,000.
Co-owner Dave Hunt credited the deal, terms of which both parties have agreed to keep private, to a “true community effort” by neighborhood residents and local elected officials. The settlement is a rare example in a city where rent hikes frequently force established restaurants to close up shop.
“What it took what a lot of focusing on what we meant to the community and for [New York Presbyterian Hospital] to say, ‘You know what, let’s take a step back and let’s reevaluate,’” said Hunt, 68, speaking from the restaurant Saturday morning.
The business that opened its doors in 1985 at 4015 Broadway, near West 169th Street, was one of the first to invest in what was then a neighborhood “synonymous with crack and drugs and death,” Rep. Adriano Espillat said earlier this week. Over the past 32 years, it’s witnessed “the renaissance of Washington Heights,” hosting not only the everyday dinner and drinks, but special occasions like weddings and baby showers.
“We’re the place for the apartment that doesn’t have enough room in their living room,” Hunt explained.
A Change.org petition calling on Coogan’s landlord to offer a more affordable renewal lease owners had collected 15,000 signatures within 48 hours of its Wednesday launch by Northern Manhattan residents.
Local elected officials including Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — co-organizers of a rally to save the pub scheduled for Sunday at noon — were “instrumental in opening up the doors to the big office at New York Presbyterian Hospital,” Hunt said.
A joint statement from Coogan’s and the hospital announcing their agreement Friday evening thanked the politicians for “their help making it happen.”
They joined the owners, prominent community members like civic leader Luis A. Miranda, his son, the Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda and many others for an impromptu celebration at the restaurant Friday night.
The Sunday press conference scheduled to take place outside the eatery will continue as planned, Brewer’s office confirmed, but it will take on a festive character in light of Friday’s events: “Now it’s going to be a celebration of a victory for the little guy,” Hunt said.