City officials Wednesday night renamed the corner of East 57th and First Avenue “Jimmy Neary Way” — in honor of the late, famous Sutton Place giant Jimmy Neary.
Neary, who owned and operated his famous namesake restaurant for over 50 years, was honored on his 92nd birthday. He died in his sleep on October 1, 2021, having celebrated his 91st birthday on September 14.
“He left the restaurant late at night and said, ‘Good night and see you tomorrow. The next day, October 1, he passed away peacefully. He came out the way he came in — upstairs,” his daughter Una, who now runs the restaurant, told The Post.
The ceremony began at 5 p.m. and was attended by Mayor Eric Adams, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cardinal Dolan, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Bishop Edmund Whelan, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Irish Caucus Chairman Keith Powers, and Councilwoman Julie Menin – who sponsored the resolution that enabled the renaming passed in June.
According to Menin’s office, over 300 people attended the ceremony.
Neary first opened Neary’s in 1967 on St. Patrick’s Day at 358 E 57th Street and in 2021 celebrated its last time at the facility, its 54th anniversary.
“People still come in today and say, ‘God, your dad, he had this warmth and charm, it didn’t matter if you were from outside, he made you feel like part of the family.’ He always ran it like a private club – where everyone was invited,” his daughter Una told the Post.
Neary emigrated to New York City on Veterans Day – November 11, 1954 – at the age of 24 from a tiny town in County Sligo, Ireland called Tubbercurry.
He’s worked his whole life, from being a towel boy at the New York Athletic Club to owning the popular Sutton Place restaurant frequented by presidents, mayors, TV personalities and sports stars.
Astronaut John Glenn ate at the pub shortly after orbiting the earth in the “early days” of the pub. Other visitors soon began to frequent the bar, including former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Governors Hugh Carey and George Pataki.
He was a personal friend of Bloomberg, and the mayor always called Neary ahead of time to have Neary cook his favorite chicken dish.
Neary once flew in a private jet with the mayor to a ceremony in Ireland honoring one of the famous generals of New York’s all-Irish brigade – the Fighting 69th.
Bloomberg then surprised Neary and took him to Tubbercurry — where locals were more eager to see Neary than the Big Apple mayor.
“He surprised my father. It was a fleet of SUVs driving into the village of Tubbercurry! All the shopkeepers left their shops and the city gathered to one side. They were thrilled to see my father!” said Una.
Bloomberg delivered one of the eulogies at Neary’s funeral last fall.
Una said her father was the “embodiment of the American dream.”
He sold over a dozen lambs in Ireland, which paid for his passage to the Big Apple. In 1956 he was drafted in peacetime and drove tanks in Germany.
The Irishman worked days at the Athletic Club – of which he later became the first ex-staff member – and evenings at the famous PJ Moriartys restaurant on Sixth Avenue.
Neary then signed a lease at 358 E 57th and then purchased the building in 1986.
Una said her mother told Neary he “secured his children’s future” by buying the building.
A devout Catholic, Neary attended daily mass in Tenafly, NJ, where he spent most of his adult life with his wife, Eileen Neary.
He then had breakfast at the local diner and made his way to Manhattan, where he stayed at the restaurant well after closing time.
Una told The Post her dad loved America and always wore a suit and tie – which was usually green – and loved getting the whole bar chanting “God Bless America.”
The family asked Manhattan Alderman Julie Menin to support a resolution to rename the street in honor of their beloved Irishman.
“Jimmy is an icon for the Irish community. You always felt better walking out than walking in,” Menin told the Post.
She said she’s been going to the restaurant for years, bringing her late mother and now homebound father, Robert Jacobs, 86, with her.
Last year, she brought Jacobs to Neary’s for his 85th birthday after he hadn’t left his apartment for almost four years.
Neary was in the pub greeting the old veteran – the brought tears to his eyes, said Menin.
The restaurant is open every day of the year, except on Christmas Day. It was also closed for 14 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
https://nypost.com/2022/09/14/nyc-street-corner-to-be-renamed-after-restaurateur-irishman-jimmy-neary/ New York street corner to be renamed after Irish restaurateur Jimmy Neary