Mike Manjon left his bartending job at Beacon Bar, located at 2130 Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets, on March 14th, and has not been back since. News that the bar will not be reopening came in the form of a letter from the Assistant General Manager in mid-June. This news was understandably upsetting, and there hasn’t been any communication since.
“Who knows what happens behind closed doors. The owners never reached out to us at all. Even after they’ve decided to shut us down. They haven’t talked to us, apologized or said anything like, ‘We’re sorry that we’re closing’!” says Mike.
Mike was the head bartender at Beacon Bar and had been with the company since August 2014. As they first opened in April 2013, he’s pretty much been there from the start. “I was the one who decided what the drinks were on the menu,” Mike says.
Prior to COVID shutting the bar down, they had already reduced the schedule to only five nights a week, instead of seven. They were closed on Sunday and Monday nights.
“So, technically we closed Sunday and Monday, then we were mandated to close. I had my last day without even knowing that we were going to close and not go back. I have not been back there since, even though I have a locker there,” Mike said.
Employees at the Beacon Bar are part of a union and are waiting to hear what their severance packages will look like. The way Mike explains it, there are “two kinds of severance options. One is a simple severance which says that if they ever tried to open up another food and beverage outlet in that space, they would have to hire us all back.” He explained that this option does not offer much, if any compensation, though.
Mike explained how places like the Plaza have used this type of severance and have been closed for many years now, because if they ever opened up a restaurant in that space again, they would have to hire back union workers.
The other option is an expanded severance package, which is a higher pay out, but essentially frees the company up to use the space without rehiring employees. Mike is not sure how things will work out, but says “my thinking is if they don’t have an amenity like a bar or restaurant, they will lose a star.”
Mike believes that it would cost them a lot of business not having a food and beverage outlet as part of the hotel. “So, expanded severance would basically buy us all out. And then, if they wanted to lease that space to Tao Group, or any restaurant group, they could do that and they wouldn’t be obligated to bring us back on staff. That’s basically what we’re negotiating now,” Mike said.
Mike tells us he’s really going to miss his regular customers and looks forward to staying in touch with many of them. It didn’t feel like a typical hotel bar to him, and he was proud of the family he built.
“Just on a personal note, that place was a piece of me. I worked in many bars and restaurants, but I worked at this place because I wanted to. I have another job, but I preferred working behind the bar because it’s something that I love. The Beacon Bar was very special to me. It wasn’t about the money. For me, it was always about building that community that I built from scratch. I’m very proud of what I did there. Dealing with people from all over the world who were very transient and would just come in for a day or two, to regulars I saw every day. I can’t even go into the Fairway with without seeing 20 people that are like ‘hey Mike!’, so I’m going to miss that.”
Calls and emails to the owners have not been returned.Get the Upper West Side newsletter: