New documentary Coogan's Way tells history of storied Irish bar in New York City


The bell finally tolled for Coogan's storied Irish bar and restaurant in Washington Heights in March 2020, but its story and legacy are far from over, as a new film by director Glenn Osten Anderson makes clear.

Saint Patrick's Day 2020 was a haunted affair in New York City and nowhere more so than at Coogan's bar and restaurant in Washington Heights, a venue known far and wide as a kind of City Hall north. 

Famous for its hearty multiethnic welcome, which included both the patrons and staff, it represented the very best of what the American dream stands for, a diverse community from various backgrounds working and playing together for the benefit of all.

But then the pandemic finally did what even the exploding New York rents couldn't, making the bars overheads impossible to meet, so with an irony that you couldn't miss this most famous of Irish bars finally closed on the day it should have been celebrating, March 17, 2020.

Now a new documentary film by director Glenn Osten Anderson titled Coogan's Way will tell the story of how the Irish bar and restaurant, which opened in 1985, in a real way tells the wider story of the community it served and the city it reflected.

Onscreen owners Dave Hunt, Tess O'Connor McDade, and Peter Walsh reflect on the bar's storied history with eager help from Charlie Rangel, Lin Manuel Miranda, and the late New York Times reporter and Coogan's regular Jim Dwyer, among others.

In the early 2000's Anderson, then a NYU film student first became aware of Coogan's when he was running the video board at the nearby Armory. Coogan's became his after-work place to go get a drink. 

“I was studying how to be a documentary filmmaker and that was my place for wrap parties, first dates, or to get dinner when my parents came to town, it really was my favorite spot in New York City. So when I heard about the first impending closing in 2018 I was crestfallen, I just always thought it would be there,” Anderson tells IrishCentral.