Epitaph for a Neighborhood Bar

Manhattan User’s Guide, an online magazine and email newsletter for NYC culture, ran an essay today by an employee of the imminently closing P&G Cafe.

The P&G, which sits on the city’s Upper West Side, isn’t a particularly notable establishment. It’s been around since 1942 (not unusual for a New York City joint), but it’s never become a universally recognized fixture or celebrity hangout. Nonetheless, it was tremendously important to its regulars. Weekend bartender Mike Taranto nails the significance of the P&G in a short, heartfelt, workmanlike essay that transcends its immediate topic and turns into a love poem for the kind of “real” bar or restaurant that holds a neighborhood together.

I worked in a place where people celebrated the births of their children and grieved over the loss of their loved ones. I worked in a place that overflowed with joy when the home teams won. I worked in a place that stayed open through blizzards and blackouts. On that horrible day in September when hundreds of thousands of people walked north, we were there.

In a world where more and more bars and restaurants have a plastic facelessness, it’s bittersweet to read a funeral oration for a place that had something a little more soulful going on.

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