By Harry Keaney
Last drinks have been served in the Irish Treasury bar on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, across the street from the Empire State Building.
Last week, the pub and restaurant, which had been open for about year, closed. By Friday, only the shell of the bric-a-brac-filled interior remained as workers from the likes of Coca-Cola and Budweiser, as well as dismantlers from Scrap Boy’z in Queens, took what they could. Where the Dubliners’ Ronnie Drew raised the rafters only a few months ago, a mournful atmosphere loomed. But in the midst of it all, co-owner Rory Connolly was as upbeat as he could.
"Business was thriving but overheads were excessive," Connolly said. "I believe that the location is more suited to fast food and tourist outlets. The evening trade was highly sporadic."
And he added that the Irish customers "had been great" but "they do not come into town at the weekend."
The bar and restaurant was opened by Connolly and another Dubliner, Chris Martin. They initially called it The Irish Bank but after objections from the New York State department of banking, they settled on the name The Irish Treasury.
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Connolly and Martin, both just in their early 30s, had run into similar problems with another bar and restaurant they operate in San Francisco. There, they called their bar The Bank of Ireland but when the real Bank of Ireland objected, they decided to call it The Irish Bank.
And about a year ago, they sold a bar and restaurant in Portland, Ore., also called The Irish Bank.
They are now embarking on a new pub design business with a company called Irish Pub Design and Development Corporation, which was formed about a year ago and which currently has jobs in Perth in Scotland and Slough, outside London. Negotiations are in progress about a job in Anchorage, Ala., Connolly said.
"The unusual thing about us is that we do all the standard services everybody else does but we also do self-fit where we supply people with containers of fixtures, memorabilia and bric-a-brac for them to fit out their own concepts," Connolly said.
And that’s where many of the knick-knacks that once filled the window and lined the walls of The Treasury will eventually be going.
As regards bar’s closure, Connolly said that although they had good strong support, they felt the "time span of its take-off did not merit the economic input" considering their other options, including the pub design business, The Irish Bank in San Francisco and their Dublin construction business.
As he survey the gutted remains of The Irish Treasury, Connolly said he owed the real banks nothing. "Anything I lost was my own and thank God I’m getting out of it with a bit of humor and bit of reverence. What can I say, I’ll always give it a try."
Connolly is now looking forward to the October Festival in San Francisco, which will be opened by Mayor Willie Brown.