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Irish pub in Flushing serves many nationalities

"My father starting working here in 1964," said Pat McGriskin, manager, co-owner of the Irish pub and a Flushing native. "Somebody said it could have been here since the 1940s."

McGriskin''s is one of only four Irish pubs left in downtown Flushing, with just one other, Kelly''s Pub, in the immediate area.

"Years ago there might have been 10 bars in this area," he said. "But now there''s only two left."

McGriskin attributed the recent decline in Irish pubs in Flushing to rising rents.

While the pub has been renovated several times in recent years, everything else about McGriskin''s seems changeless. Located at 41-94 Main St. just off Maple Avenue, McGriskin''s is a family business staffed by four full-time bartenders. The employees are not on the move; they come to McGriskin''s to work for a long stretch.

"It''s a good place to work. I like the place," said Steve McNamara, who has worked at the pub for 19 years. McNamara came to McGriskin''s after selling a bar he owned in Elmhurst. "I like the owner, and I like everyone I work with," he said.

McGriskin said his staff gets along well, adding that the customers are as dedicated to the pub as the bartenders.

"Better than 95 percent are regulars," he said. "You come here, you sit down, and a drink gets put down in front of you, even though you didn''t order. But that''s what you drink. That''s what you want."

Although McGriskin''s offers the same selection of beer and liquor that one could find in any Irish pub, it is by no means typical. Its location in the heart of downtown Flushing, one of the most diverse areas in all of New York City, keeps the clientele varied. Some 95 percent of McGriskin''s customers may be regulars, but 95 percent of the customers are certainly not Irish.

"We have all types of people, all nationalities," said McNamara. "We never have any problems."

"Some days you come in, and if you''ve never been to Flushing before, you''d say, ''Where am I?''" said McGriskin, commenting on the diversity of his patrons.

McGriskin takes pride in the fact that his pub is affordable to blue- collar workers. He said that many of the bars that have opened up on Main Street in recent years charge exorbitant prices.

"You want to pay those prices, you should go to Park Avenue," he said.

Despite the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and a general decline in the nation''s economy, McGriskin said business was good. He also said he expects business to continue to be strong in the next three or four years despite the rapid changes in the look and character of Flushing.

Nevertheless, McGriskin said his pub will eventually be history as well.

"We know we''re gone," he said. "We''re slated for demolition."

McGriskin was calm as he explained the fate of his business. His lease runs out in three years at which time the building is set to be demolished in favor of new development.

"Like anything else, you''re a victim of the lease, of what the new immigrant is willing to pay over you," he said.

But while McGriskin''s may join many of Flushing''s other Irish pubs as a distant memory, its owner hopes to start a new tradition.

"I''ll look into opening some place very close by," he said.

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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