Rosie O’Grady’s, Revered Irish Saloon, Is Closing July 1st After Landlord Wins In Arbitration

Mike Carty, the owner of the saloon for forty-three years, talked to the West Side Spirit about having an exorbitant lease that contains what he believes is an overlooked force majeure clause. Carty says there are no concrete plans as to where the esteemed saloon would move next.

| 06 Jun 2023 | 10:47

Rosie O’Grady’s, perched on the corner of 7th Ave. and W. 52nd St. since 1976, is the quintessential Midtown Irish saloon. Its tables are set in muted tones of oak, soft lighting suffuses the silverware, and a polished bar with every beer on tap imaginable loops around the front dining room. There’s even a glamorous event venue upstairs, the Manhattan Manor, which hosts fundraisers, weddings, and mitzvahs.

It was therefore with a heavy heart that the owner of Rosie O’Grady’s and the Manor, Mike Carty--a native of County Leitrim, Ireland who emigrated to New York in the 1960s--made the announcement that the entire operation will be shuttering on July 1st, 2023. After undergoing an arbitration process with his landlord, the commercial real estate behemoth SL Green, Carty determined that vacating the lease was the only option for the decades-old restaurant. With a daunting yearly rent of $3.3 million proving unattainable after the gauntlet of the COVID-19 shutdown, Carty believes that wrapping things up on 7th Ave. was the only available avenue.

In an interview with the West Side Spirit, Carty said that he believed the provisions of his lease were callously disregarded or rendered irrelevant by the arbitration panels. He had set up a partial payment plan to sustain operations at the restaurant that was in effect when its rent was reset in 2016, and Carty stressed that “until the pandemic, we never missed a payment. We never were late for a payment.” In fact, 2019 was Carty’s “best year ever,” after he brought in a catering facility that could host up to 280 people.

Then COVID-19 descended on New York City, and Rosie’s was at the forefront of the headwinds buffeting the Manhattan service industry. It closed down in the earliest days of the pandemic--before reopening briefly, closing again, and then finally reopening again. However, Carty felt confident that a force majeure clause in his term sheet with landlord SL Green–an ostensibly non-binding document, specifying that the restaurant would not face penalties for closing in the event of an “act of God” or a government shutdown–would carry weight with the corporation and the arbitration panel. Unfortunately for Carty, the panel confirmed that such a clause was indeed non-binding, and the landlord was free to ignore it. He would now owe rent in full, a distinctly impossible task both given the astronomical multi-million dollar sum and the many months of slashed profits during the pandemic. As Carty puts it, “the rent is exorbitant. It’s probably the highest rent in the city for the amount of square footage.” Narrowly missing a grant from the RRF Fund (Restaurant Revitalization Fund) didn’t help matters.

As of now, Carty is uncertain about moving plans for his saloon. “We were hoping to stay here for 25 [more] years,” he says wistfully. With that path seemingly closed off, Carty says he’ll have to settle for “staying in the area.”

In a statement to the West Side Spirit, SL Green said that “After working with Rosie O’Grady’s for several years to address millions in unpaid rent, they decided to abandon the lease. We will now look for another tenant to fill this important space on 7th Avenue.”