Rocky Sullivan's Last Night in Manhattan

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Chris Bryne, the co-owner of Rocky Sullivan's, says the show will go on in Brooklyn. The Manhattan location closed last night.
Photo by Hollow Sidewalks via Flickr

"They can take away our Guinness, but they can't take away our freedom," screamed one fairly inspired reveler from the landing of Rocky Sullivan's pub on Lexington Avenue on Tuesday night. It wasn't exactly the case, but the crowd roared back anyway. The reworking of the famous Braveheart line was close enough for them.

They're not taking away anyone's Guinness. Just moving it to Red Hook. After more than 11 years, the last pint has been pulled at Rocky's Lexington Avenue location.

Chris Byrne, who co-founded the bar with journalist Patrick Farrelly, was philosophical about the move to Dwight and Van Dyke streets.

"With the way the rent went up, it was just impossible for us to remain a working man's bar," said Byrne, both a former cop and member of Black 47. "It was more than double the rent. I've been fighting to stay here for the past three years. But with the rent increases and the neighborhood changing, I just gave up fighting and now I'm looking forward to Brooklyn."

And just how has the neighborhood around 28th and Lexington changed in the last decade?

"It's not bad, if you're looking for a night out in Orlando," Byrne said casting a weary glance down Lex. "But it's not the Manhattan that I grew up in."

The new Rocky's, the former Liberty Heights Tap Room, is four times bigger than the old Lex location and has an outdoor deck that's a "smoker's paradise," said Byrne. Plus, now he'll serve food: pub grub and the same brick oven pizza served by the former owners.

The live music will remain. And so will the readings that have drawn big names such as Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt, Edna O'Brien and Pete Hamill among others.

On August 27, he'll have his first: Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, reading from his debut novel Triple Homicide.

"I went through my angry phase, but I'm over it," said Byrne. "I'm not trying to get all Bill Clinton on you when I tell you I really am looking forward to Red Hook."


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