135 Reade is for sale

The sweet little 135 Reade, which now houses Bar 135 and before that the Reade Street Pub for these past decades and perhaps is one of the longest running pub sites in the neighborhood, is for sale. M. caught the listing: $7.3 million. I checked in with Tribecan Jude Sheehan of Bar 135 — he has 12 years left on his lease.

Every generation of Tribecans has their 135 Reade: for many of us it was Reade Street Pub (but we’re not dead yet!), whose 24-year run ended in 2021; for the crowd before it was McGovern’s, named for the brothers who managed the space the quarter of a decade before that. Sometime in the late ’60s it was Morgan’s Grill, which evolved from the tavern that opened a few years after Prohibition ended, around 1945. The first saloon in that space opened in 1878.

It’s worth reading Tom Miller’s historical account of the building here, but to sum up its first century as a saloon: In January 1878, the store was leased to G. A. Hendricks for a restaurant. By 1897, it was run by Henry Doscher, who had a deal with Bernheimer & Schwartz, owners of the Lion Brewery, to sell only their beer and ale in his saloon. The Doscher saloon remained in the building at least through 1906. Auguste Otte and his son, Rudolph, ran the restaurant starting in 1917, while World War I raged, but were shut down for serving meat when it was meant to be rationed. It was closed down again in 1920, during a Prohibition sting operation by the local police captain; by 1945 the building was sold and once again the ground floor operated as a saloon.

In the late 1990s, Charles McGovern sold the building to Bruce Barasky, who operated the Reade Street Pub and lived above the store until he moved his family to Jersey, for $499,000. Barasky then sold it in 2021 for $4.65 million. At that time there were discussions of tearing down the existing building to build a seven-floor condo, but clearly that did not come to be.

Barasky’s tale of how he came to own the bar is a New York classic: He was in the neighborhood for the 1996 ticker tape parade for the Yankees — they had just won the World Series over the Braves. Brian stopped in at what was then McGovern’s to have a beer. Before he got to the bottom of his pint, he had told McGovern he wanted to buy the joint. McGovern assumed Brian was Irish Catholic, and let’s just say Brian did nothing to dispel that assumption, especially after a few choice words from McGovern about his Jewish competition. (Brian is Jewish too.) McGovern and his brother Thomas had purchased the building in 1969 from Mary King; the first saloon in that space opened in 1878.

The listing at Streeteasy says the three-story building is 9000 square feet with preserved air rights. There are currently three residential units upstairs and while the listing notes that the restaurant is there until 2031, it also says the building can be delivered vacant. It goes on to suggest that this is a great location for a 9,000-square-foot single-family home — turnkey townhouses in Tribeca currently sell between $2,500 and $3,000 per square foot.