Local Business Update: Walker’s

Walker’s isn’t going anywhere. The corner bar that has borne the name of one of its owners since 1987 and been the scene of bended elbows in that very spot since the 1880s is firmly planted. That said, it will be a long winter.

“When they close you down, they really take the wind out of you,” says Tribecan Martin Sheridan, 70, who owns Walker’s with Jerry Walker. (They also opened Souths, which was later taken over by one of their bartenders.) “We are still here only because our landlord has been gentle with us. Without that, we’re lost. Everybody’s lost.”

How lost? They estimate they are bringing in about 15 to 20 percent of their usual receipts, and are only able to break even with the discount on rent. But they are trying — hard — to make it work. To help revive the business, the owners brought in Michael Dempsey as a general manager (from Freemans) and Gary Lawler, the GM of the Ear Inn (more on that below). (“It’s about time someone new came in — we need fresh blood,” said Sheridan.) Chef Preston Madson from Freemans helped devise a delicious yet more efficient menu, to save costs. Eschewing plexiglass, they built period partitions to match the bar in the main room. (The middle room makes for a great private room for up to 10.)

They also revamped their delivery menu, and have it updated here now on GrubHub.

“This is all about minimizing loss right now, and being as creative as we can without sacrificing quality or atmosphere,” said Dempsey.

It sure didn’t help that the DOT green-lighted their curbside seating on Varick — complete with pressed tin details — and agreed to move the bus stop to Franklin, then changed their minds and made the restaurant dismantle the entire 50-foot structure. Walker’s is now rebuilding curbside on the N. Moore side.

But back to where it started: Sheridan’s first stop as a business owner downtown was the Ear Inn, which he took over with Richard “RIP” Hayman in the late ’70s (the bar there opened in 1817 but had never had a name until then). The story there, which I had never heard: both men were in the music business at the time, and Hayman was the editor of a music magazine that was published across the street called Ear. When the two bought the bar in 1980, they blacked out the curves of the “B” in the neon sign left over from the ’30s so it would read EAR as an homage.

Now they are just trying to keep the businesses alive and will do what they have to — build again outside, embrace takeout, pivot where they can to match the unstable pandemic times.

“It’s all about survival right now,” Sheridan said. “But we are past the worst suffering and we are on the way back. We’re here and we are not going anywhere.”



  1. Walkers is such a fun restaurant. Let’s all do our part and support locally. Thanks for the article.

  2. Love Walker’s. Love the staff.

    Wish they’d bring back the real Walker’s burger and fries. It was truly one of the best in the city.

    The abbreviated menu served out of the Girello kitchen is nowhere close to the same.

    We’re supporters and we’re patient, but don’t let that menu become permanent please.

  3. Thank you Jerry Walker and Martin Sheridan. Downtown would never be the same without my favorite restaurant. Food was always great but second to the servers, hosts and all those who have become friends over the years. There is nothing that makes life better than wonderful employers who really care.

  4. Thank you!!! We are so grateful! We love your restaurant and staff-and will continue to frequent it. We have lived in Tribeca for over 35 years and Walkers is our go to place.

  5. Oh, thanks for this update! Am with Karen on all of the above, and have observed the opening, then non-opening, outdoor stuff, then lack of outdoor stuff… and really worried. Love Walker’s! Need Walker’s! .

  6. Love Walker’s but wish they would bring back the old menu!

  7. Yay! I love Walker’s and have been a customer since the beginning. My family, friends, and I are never disappointed!

  8. I wish they can bring the old workers back worked there for 15 years but due to pandemic we all had to stop working

  9. Hi – I used to live on 144 Chambers Street back in the middle of the 70’s with a friend of mine. We lived in a loft and it was a two or three blocks walk from our home to 60 Hudson Street – where we worked at for the Defense Dept back in the day.
    We used to hang out at Barnabas Rex – which was a small bar but it did have a pool table and juke box ad lots of artists, writers. Those were the days my friends!
    The woman that owned the Barnabas Rex was Louise and she had a honey called Frank. I remember Andreas, Kevin and a few others.
    There was another bar in that area and I believe it was called McGovern’s Bar. There was a cafeteria on the corner of 60 Hudson St.and it was called the Odeon but then it got some status and the prices went up. There was also a place that sold fresh eggs and near that place as well. There was a company called “SeeFactor” as well and I believe there were music and movie business. PS – I am going back to from the early days of the mid 70’s.

    Those were the days my friends! Thank you for reading this.