After Kicking Around, Nevada Smiths Reopens in Larger, Luxurious Digs

Patrick (Paddy) McCarthyLaura Entis Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy

Shortly after 2 p.m. today, Nevada Smiths reopened a mere one block from the location that closed nearly a year and a half ago in order to make way for luxury apartments. The exile is finally over.

As you can see from our photos, the “football” mecca, now at 100 Third Avenue, has gotten pretty luxurious itself. What once was a divey neighborhood hangout where soccer fanatics across the city watched live matches has tripled in size to become a megapub spread out over four levels, complete with two full-service bars (offering over 30 beers on tap), a separate wine bar, a VIP room, a DJ booth, and two kitchens with a pizza oven (that’s right: Nevada Smiths will now serve food, including a traditional Irish brunch. You can see some menu items here.)

“I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting everything exactly right,” said owner Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy, a tall, broad man with a shock of white hair and a thick Cork accent. It cost $5,800 to get the logo inlaid in marble on the floor near the entrance, he told The Local last week. Signed jerseys from football gods like Rooney and Ronaldo line the staircases. Flat-screen televisions are ubiquitous; two screens (on the first and second floor) are so large that they cover an entire wall. “The acoustics in here are the best in town,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I built this place like a stadium.”

IMG_9756Samantha Balaban

Mr. McCarthy came to New York from county Cork, Ireland in the 80s and worked as a bartender for years until a friend convinced him to get a job in advertising sales for the Irish Voice Newspaper (a U.S. publication aimed at recent Irish immigrants) “on account,” as McCarthy tells it, “of my outgoing personality.”

That gregariousness helped Mr. McCarthy, a born self-promoter, work his way up to advertising director at the paper. Eventually, he started two digital publications of his own: the Irish Examiner, and Irish Connections.

Nevada Smiths, however, is his real passion.

The original Nevada Smiths was opened in 1992 by Mr. McCarthy’s nephew, Thomas; Mr. McCarthy became a co-owner a year later. He claims that before he got involved, the business model was struggling; he was the one, he said, to first advertise the place as a soccer bar.

Relations between Mr. McCarthy and his nephew have since soured (culminating in the firing of two longtime staff members last spring), and Mr. McCarthy is now the sole owner of the bar.

IMG_9761Samantha Balaban

That split – which Mr. McCarthy didn’t want to discuss – was just the first of many headaches. In early 2010, Mr. McCarthy received a letter informing him that his building was being demolished in order to build a 90 unit luxury apartment high-rise. “I was given six months to vacate, but I had a year left on my lease,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I thought, ‘let me stand up to these guys.’”

The first round had the block’s new owner offering a compensation sum that was “absolutely laughable,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I was in a bind though. He owned the whole block, so he could have cut off our gas.”

Mr. McCarthy was persistent, however. He met with the owner again, and got him to add $125,000 to the original offer as well as three months to the vacate date, he said.

IMG_9763Samantha Balaban

That’s when Lon Ballinger, a longtime friend and patron, stepped in to offer the bar a temporary home at his nightclub, Webster Hall. Meanwhile, Mr. McCarthy signed a lease at 100 Third Avenue. The location had been under construction for years; formerly a porn cinema, the floors were slanted and the place was a wreck. Still, the opportunity to reopen in the same neighborhood was too appealing to pass up.

Soccer fans took hope, but not everyone was thrilled.

“The community board was very worried about me even though I’ve probably been here longer than most of the guys on it,” Mr. McCarthy said, shaking his head, visibly still frustrated by the experience.

Much of the board’s reluctance stemmed from its experience with Bar None (situated next to 100 Third Avenue), a boisterous Vikings/Saints American football bar.

“There was one young girl who owns a clothing shop around the corner, I couldn’t believe her!” Mr. McCarthy said. “She said” – he paused, adopting a high pitch whine – “’There are already enough drunks here; they piss on my doorway, get sick outside my shop, they upset my dog!’”

signed jerseySamantha Balaban

“This isn’t going to be a bar for drunks,” Mr. McCarthy snorted. “At the old location, I never had a problem, we never had any fighting. The customers came, they’d sing their songs, they’d wear their jerseys, that was it!”

Mr. McCarthy lobbied hard and the board finally relented; he has promised to maintain tight security and close the bar early (for New York standards, at least): 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday.

Originally, Mr. McCarthy planned on opening for Christmas, then St. Patrick’s day; plumbing problems forced him to watch both holidays come and go.

Last week, opening day was finally in sight. “I’m nervous. Excited, but very nervous,” Mr. McCarthy said.