When Down the Road (DTR) pub opened in July 2019, they had already proved their resilience. “A month after we signed the lease, the building lost its gas,” recalls Monique Ryan, the wife of one of the owners. “And in May, before we’d even got open, there was a big fire on the roof of the building.” This week, they announced that “with a heavy heart” they will close the business on December 26.
The announcement of another Hell’s Kitchen pandemic closure has been greeted with dismay on Instagram. “This is such sad news! DTR is like a ‘CHEERS!’ Thank you for allowing us an awesome space for the last few years! Will be greatly missed!” said KJ.
Monique told us in an interview yesterday afternoon about the struggles and the good times of running a New York bar (or pub as they like to call it) in such difficult times. “We didn’t get the gas on until January 2020 and then we thought ‘Okay, this is it. Nothing else can happen. We’re good. We have food. We have a customer base. Now we’re gonna take off’ — and then Corona hit us,” she said (managing a laugh). “We’ve been definitely hit in the kneecaps, but we were still strong because we believed in it. We didn’t get any rent break. We pushed and we chugged along for a really long time, but I think if we continue to fight to try to stay open, it’s going to be a slow death.”
DTR is encouraging their regulars to come in before they shutter. “We have two weeks to create some more great memories before our doors close,” said Monique.
The business has been a labor of love for the owners — “two brothers and a very good friend” — Monique’s husband Glen Ryan, Thomas Ryan and Juan Hernandez. “They built everything on their own. Every piece of wood, every table, they built every chair,” said Monique. “There was a lot of sawdust in our hair when we would leave in the evening! The doors were open when we were doing the buildout. That’s how we met a lot of the neighbors. They would pop their heads in and ask ‘what are you guys doing?'”
They also developed a client base of firefighters and law enforcement officers, locally and from around the world. “The first guy who gave us his badge was from Australia,” said Monique as she showed us the hundreds of badges stapled to the bar and ceiling. “They are from all over. Look, there’s Honolulu and Alaska. My favorite is this one from the Pentagon. He took it out of his pocket and asked my husband to put it up.”
The pandemic was tough for DTR. “We followed all the protocols. In the beginning it was no food. You had to get a drink and it had to be to go, no one was allowed inside. Then it was, you can open at 25%. We did it because we wanted to try to survive,” she recalls. More recently they have invested in outside dining around the building at the corner of W47th Street and 9th Avenue.
We asked if they had any celebrity customers. “We had Jeremy Renner in one time. Our staff spotted him, but we didn’t bother him,” she said. “Our stars are our neighbors.”