top of page

Last Call at Staten Island's Oldest Bar

HOST, CLAIRE DAVENPORT: If you step off the Staten Island ferry and walk around a bit, you never know what you might stumble into. Like a chapter of New York City history, coming to a close. Samuel Eli Shepherd reports.

NARRATION, SAMUEL SHEPHERD: It’s 3PM on a Saturday, and the regular crowd shuffles in.

That isn’t a Billy Joel lyric. It’s Liedy's Shore Inn, the oldest bar on Staten Island, and it's nowhere fancy. It’s down the block from a tire repair store. You should be able to see the Manhattan skyline from the entrance, but a pile of industrial salt from a nearby factory blocks the view. The bar’s owner, Larry Liedy, is standing by the door in a blue blazer with a black dress-shirt. 

LARRY LIEDY: I like black and blue. They look good together. And I like the black and blues I got in tthis business..haha, you know what I’m saying?

SHEPHERD:  Liedy’s dressed up because after 119 years of operation, Liedy’s Shore Inn is closing this month, and Liedy, 73, is going out with a jam.

SHEPHERD: Leidy walks inside, where he wades his way through a sea of old friends. Music echoes off tin ceilings. Baseball memorabilia line up the walls. I ask Larry how he’s doing.

LARRY: It's going...Hey!

SHEPHERD: Larry’s really busy, so his sister, Lenaye tells me about this bar's history. 

LENAYE LIEDY-MCGILL: This was my father’s business, my grandfather’s business, and my great-grandfather’s business.

SHEPHERD: Liedy’s Shore Inn was founded by German immigrant Jacob Leidy in 1905. It was passed down to his son, Lou, who passed it onto his son, Charles. Larry and his seven siblings grew up in the two story apartments above the bar. 

LIEDY-MCGILL: It was quite fun…Y’know, it was baby booming time. People came home from the service, they had big families…And if we slept three or four in the bed, we were fine. We were happy.

SHEPHERD: The bar is a few blocks away from Snug Harbor gardens, which used to be a hospital and retirement home for merchant seamen. It was established in 1801, and after World War 2, the bar became a magnet for retired sailors coming from the harbor. 

LIEDY-MCGILL: It was fabulous. And when we were little, we would go there, to the harbor, and run around, and we knew all the seamen, because they were here all day!

SHEPHERD: Lenaye says as early as 8AM. Larry took over the business from his father in 1992. Today, Liedy’s Shore Inn is the oldest bar in New York City to be continuously run by a single family. Except Larry doesn’t have any kids, and he’s getting older. Lenaye said she's sad the family business is closing.

LIEDY-MCGILL:  But at the same time, my brother has done a wonderful, wonderful job carrying on  this iconic place, and he has continued a great legacy. And he is up in age now and he deserves to have quality of life. I want to see him at least go to Disney. He's never gone away, not since he's here, you know.

LEIDY-MCGILL: It’s time.

SHEPHERD: Larry may travel, but for now he plans to stay in the neighborhood, maybe coach baseball. One thing’s for sure: it’s hard to let go of a place with so many memories. According to family lore Madonna stopped by while shooting the music video for papa don’t preach. And there have been decades of live performances. Jimmy Mack is tuning up for tonight. His band has been performing at Leidy’s since the early 2000s.

JIMMY MACK: And we played every Friday and Wednesday for the last 21 or 22 years, or 23 years, something like that, I lost count.

SHEPHERD 11: Mack is 74. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get another gig that lasts this long in his lifetime.

MACK: It’s the end of an era for me. Might be the end of my life, who knows!

SHEPHERD: Back outside the bar, a longtime patron, Gerilyn McHugh has her arms wrapped around Larry. She says the Liedys are the secret to this bar’s longevity. 

GERILYN MCHUGH: That's why there's so many people coming out this weekend, because they're supporting Larry and all he's done for the community… He is a legend who's left this beautiful legacy that we appreciate. [Background, Larry: Thank you very much!]

SHEPHERD: But even legends have endings. Samuel Eli Shepherd. Columbia Radio News.



bottom of page