Subject: NYT on Mooney's
The NYT published a piece on Mooney's yesterday:"Where Everybody Really Did Know His Name"
By JAKE MOONEY
Published: November 18, 2007
ASIDE from the green and white sign with the three-leaf clovers, there isn’t much to catch the eye about Mooney’s Pub on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, unless you’re a frequent passer-by with an apartment nearby and what you had always thought was an uncommon last name. In that case, you wonder idly what these other Mooneys are like, and make a mental note to stop in sometime and say hi.
But maybe you keep putting it off, until one day you read in The Brooklyn Paper that Mooney’s, there on the border between Park Slope and Prospect Heights for 20 years after 18 years on nearby Seventh Avenue, is going to close because of the neighborhood’s now-familiar rent problems.
So, with a pang of regret for the namesake hangout that never was, the potential shared relatives never enumerated, you swing by to meet Kevin Mooney, the owner, before it’s too late. He’s 72, with wavy white hair, and looks a little like a heavier Ronald Reagan. As far as anyone can determine, you’re not related, and with hair like that, it’s a shame.
With Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash playing on the jukebox, Mr. Mooney recalls, in an accent straight from County Galway, the bar’s St. Patrick’s Day parties, when he would give away 700 pounds of corned beef and 150 pounds of cabbage that his older brother Michael had spent four days cooking. It is doubtful that Mooney’s will see another St. Patrick’s Day — it has no lease, and papers seeking its removal have already been served — but Mr. Mooney says his lawyer is doing what he can to keep the bar open as long as possible.
After that, he says, he will still have another Mooney’s Pub, in Bay Ridge, to look after. But he will miss the customers on Flatbush, like the guy who always sat at the end of the bar in the back, and lately wrote from California to say he had written a movie, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” and had named a bar in the film in honor of his old hangout.
What Mr. Mooney most prized was the bar’s sociable mood in a stretch of Brooklyn that has had some rough years. “We never had a fight in here in 20 years,” he says. “Never.”
Before he leaves, he indulges you with some talk about your shared name. He once took some psychotherapy classes, he says, and he had planned to open a storefront with a sign outside: “If you’re loony, see Mooney.” He cracks up, then adds, straight-faced, “It never materialized.”
Here is the thing about Mooney’s that really makes you regret not stopping by sooner: You walk in expecting an Irish pub, full of Irish guys drinking Guinness and talking about de Valera. It has all that, but it also has a Rainbow Coalition of customers — black, white, gay, straight, rich, poor — all happily intermingling. Brooklyn can feel Balkanized, with different types of people keeping to their own types of hangouts, but Mooney’s customers sometimes describe the diversity of the place in almost utopian terms.
“There are professionals, there are homeless people — a lot of people come in here,” says Bill Thomas, a medical ultrasonographer. Mr. Thomas, who is black, says the Japanese-born bartender, Shuhei Fujii, who has a long ponytail and wears an “Orange County Choppers” shirt, taught him how to do glass-blowing.
Down the bar, a longtime local resident named Joe Stanyek says Mooney’s always differed from the rough old places that once lined Flatbush Avenue — “buckets of blood,” they were called. “This was a very gentle place,” he says. “It really was a true pub.”
The stories go on: Brian Caine of Park Slope shows off a set of darts given to him by a Norwegian carpenter who played there while visiting relatives. A bartender named Scot Parish tells how he met his wife at Mooney’s. and how he stood up for the wedding of a regular customer who met his own wife there.
Mr. Parish has been working there for years, and the place has rubbed off on him. “All the other bartenders, on Fifth Avenue, they call me Scot Mooney,” he says.
Mr. Caine laughs: “He’s been grandfathered into the family.”