Hell’s Kitchen haunt to shutter

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The Coliseum, on West 58th Street, is one of the West Side’s longest tenured bars


  • Kathleen Reilly, the owner of The Coliseum, in front of the pub, which is set to close next week. Photo: Michael DeSantis


Hell’s Kitchen is losing a staple.

Citing expenses, Kathleen Reilly, the owner of The Coliseum Bar & Restaurant, said she is being forced to close down the Irish-American pub after 40 years of it being in her family.

Reilly said paying a $40,000 monthly rent along with the costs of upkeep made it impossible for her to keep the restaurant open. The pub has been around since as far back as 1949, according to its website. Reilly’s late father, Paddy Reilly, acquired the lease in 1978.

“It’s an exorbitant amount of money for the type of establishment we are because we try to keep prices low for regular customers,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure everyone can come in and have a meal. It’s for the working guy, the regular person and family.”

The Coliseum’s last day of business will be either Sunday or Monday.

Reilly described her business as an American pub with an Irish flair, attributable to her family’s Irish roots. Traditional American bar fare is on the menu, from buffalo wings and chicken fingers to burgers and fries. Of course, there are also Irish specialties like Irish sausages and mash, shepherd’s pie, and fish and chips. For a few more days, you can finish your meal with an Irish coffee and cheesecake, or apple crumble.

“One of my father’s things was if it wouldn’t be served at your own house, at your own table, it shouldn’t be served,” Reilly said.

She grew emotional when thinking about how her dad would’ve handled the move.

“My dad and I were very close, so it is a little hard with the closing,” she said of Paddy Reilly, who passed away five years ago. “I know I’ve done everything and my family has done everything to try and keep it going. But he’d be the first person to say, ‘It’s time to move on, there’s a time for everything.’”

The Coliseum has been so named since the 1950s, taking its moniker from the convention center that was on the west side of nearby Columbus Circle from 1956 until 2000.

Paddy Reilly once owned eight bars around the city. Two will remain once The Coliseum closes its doors. Kathleen Reilly, who co-owns both The Abbey Tavern on Third Avenue and The Molly Wee on Eighth Avenue, said she’ll transition to working full-time at the Abbey Tavern.

Kathleen Mattessich, a friend of Reilly’s and a customer of The Coliseum for decades, said the pub closing down is a major loss for the neighborhood and the city.

“It’s been a haunt for a lot of people for a lot of years,” Mattessich, 71, said. “It’s a community place. Various businesses use it for after-work events. It’s just a neighborhood place.”

Reilly and Mattessich both expressed their disappointment that The Coliseum is far from being the only independent business that’s been forced to close in recent years. Mattessich said Manhattan is on the fringes of becoming the next Mall of America.

“All you find are these chain stores because mom-and-pop stores are getting pushed out of the city,” Mattessich said. “The landlords will keep hiking the rent because they know they’ll get it from a chain store.”

And while The Coliseum ended up being the latest small business forced to close its doors, Reilly, 47, is optimistic there are still bigger and better things ahead for her.

“I’m very much at peace with it but I’m very sad to be going,” Reilly said of leaving Hell’s Kitchen. “I’ll be very sad to close the doors, especially because of the neighborhood and all of the beautiful people we’ve met. They’re not just customers. They’ve become friends and family. We’d like to say thank you to everyone. The last 40 years have been marvelous.”

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