McHALE’S, Midtown

by Kevin Walsh

I’m unsure if McHale’s Bar & Grill, #251 West 51st Street, has anything to do with the classic McHale’s, formerly at the NE corner of 8th Avenue and West 46th Street. That one had glorious neon signage. However, a careful look at the third floor reveals that the proprietors of the new McHale’s, which opened in 2012, acquired at least some of the old neon signage. Perhaps more can be found within? Let me know.

As for the old place, I featured it in FNY’s Neon Nights page in 2006.

Jennifer 8. Lee wrote in the NY Times:

“In a city of $15 cosmopolitans, McHale’s sells $4 pints of beer and Ketel One and tonic for $4.50. The burgers are so thick that they crumble under their own weight.

With its darkened windows and aging neon lights, the restaurant is invisible to all except those who already know it, a shared secret for the stagehands, neighborhood regulars and the khaki-clad types who work at Viacom and Morgan Stanley in Times Square. Its intimacy embraces newcomers, taking some by surprise. “I walked in the other day, and they’re like, ‘Hey, Brian, what do you want?’ and I’m like, ‘What? You know my name?’ ” said Brian Silverman, 29, a guitarist on “Movin’ Out,” playing across the street.

The pub is an oasis that has so far escaped the sweep of Times Square development. “Times Square should change with the times, but I think it’s become too commercial and too Disney World,” said Tyler Miller, 32, a messenger who has been coming to McHale’s for six years. “It’s nice to have something from the past.”

The bar still has some original windows from the days when it was called the Gaiety Cafe. The wooden bar is from the 1939 World’s Fair. The blinds were installed for an American Express commercial with Jerry Seinfeld that was shot two years ago.”

Soon after McHale’s closed, I found the old McHale’s neon signs on a sidewalk in front of an antiques shop on West 24th. At least some of it found its way here.

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Pete September 28, 2022 - 9:07 pm

This photo shows the side edge of a new neon sign. The new neon sign can be seen on Street View from a 3/4 angle. It hangs over the sidewalk.

christopher thomas brady September 29, 2022 - 4:57 pm

That place reminds me of a Blarney Stone.There used to be a chain of
bars in Mnhattan that we called Blarney Stones because they all had
Irish names like Blarney Stone,Emerald Isle,Shamrock,etc.They were
all built the same and had stainless steel facades.I’m guessing they were
built in the 1940s.A glass of Schaefer was 45 cents and though the food
on the steam tables looked appetizing the overall cleanliness of the
place didnt exactly inspire your confidence.

Sunnysider September 30, 2022 - 9:59 am

As someobe who has spent more time in dive bars than I should have in my 50 + years, I do lament the fact that the authentic, gritty dive bars brimming with history and local character are indeed an endangered species.


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