Jan. 18, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
The bar, located at 57-24 Roosevelt Ave., has been a neighborhood staple for more than 50 years but its owners are struggling to stay afloat and now customers are coming to their aid.
A patron decided to launch the GoFundMe after he saw co-owner Dan Connor on YouTube appealing for financial assistance as part of a competition for bars and restaurants.
“For the first time ever I think we’re not going to make this,” Connor said in the video. “I don’t see us being given the green light to reopen in a true capacity until the end of March, we’re going to miss a second St. Patrick’s Day.”
Connor didn’t expect many people to see the video and was stunned days later by the public’s response.
Several residents, he said, began sharing it and word quickly got around that the bar is in financial trouble. The video has now amassed more than 5,500 views.
One customer was so struck by the video that he decided to set up a GoFundMe for Donovan’s Pub while its owners go through the competition’s application process. The competition is for the Barstool Fund which was set up to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The GoFundMe was created Thursday and the money has flooded in with nearly $30,000 donated within 72 hours from around 300 donors.
“It’s unbelievable, we’re feeling pretty blessed and humbled,” Connor told the Queens Post. ” We have always given to the community so we feel strange about receiving money, it’s a little overwhelming.”
He said that the business has regularly supported youth programs at St. Sebastian’s Church and St. Mary’s Church as well as other local organizations and events.
Gary Smith, the GoFundMe page creator, appealed to the public to chip in to the fund given the charity the owners have shown to the community down through the years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard,” Smith wrote. “Please let’s all come together to help them survive… and to make sure they remain open for many more years to come.”
Connor bought the bar with his brother-in-law Jimmy Jacobson in 2013 to save it from shuttering permanently. They are both life-long Woodside residents and work full-time in other industries.
“We didn’t buy the bar to become wealthy, we just wanted to preserve it because it means so much to the community.”
The bar, which is situated directly across from St. Sebastian’s church on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 58th Street, is a popular destination for religious-related functions and private parties. It has many regulars and is known for hosting live music and serving burgers and beer.
The bar seats around 200 people inside but the space is now effectively useless due to the latest ban on indoor dining.
Connor said that they put gazebos up along on 58th Street during the warmer months for outdoor dining but stopped serving once the cold weather set in. The outdoor area seated around 30 people.
He said they did not construct a solid outdoor area because the sidewalk on 58th Street has limited space. He said that space is even more inadequate on Roosevelt Avenue and isn’t practical for such a structure due to its slope.
He said that they are now only open from Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. for takeout and delivery. Staff numbers have been cut from 16 to four.
Connor said that Donovan’s has been supplying food to healthcare workers and food pantries during the pandemic which has kept the bar going.
Donovan’s was preparing up to 500 meals per week at one point as part of an agreement with the non-profit Feed The Front Lines. However, it has been scaled back to around 50 meals per week due to the non-profit’s diminished funds.
“What they did for us was amazing,” Connor said.
He said that they have struggled to meet their monthly rent since the business hasn’t been generating enough revenue. The landlord has been very accommodating and has already forgiven two months rent, he said.
“It’s a special neighborhood,” Connor said.
Donations to the Donovan’s Pub GoFundMe page can be made by clicking here.