Belfast owners of New York’s Dead Rabbit bar vow to bounce back after fire

Firefighters at The Dead Rabbit in Lower Manhattan after the fire was discovered on Sunday morning
Firefighters at The Dead Rabbit in Lower Manhattan after the fire was discovered on Sunday morning

The Belfast owners of a famous New York pub have pledged they will bounce back after the premises was badly damaged in a fire.

The Dead Rabbit, co-founded by Ardoyne men Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, was named the best bar in the world back in 2015.

News Letter reporter Stephen Gamble at the Dead Rabbit pub in New York

News Letter reporter Stephen Gamble at the Dead Rabbit pub in New York

But the award-winning bar, located in the financial district of Lower Manhattan, has sustained extensive damage after an early morning blaze ripped through the building on Sunday.

Firefighters were called to the premises at 30 Water Street after receiving a report of a fire in the bar’s kitchen ventilation system.

No one was hurt in the fire, but the owners said they will have no option but to close until further notice.

In a statement, the pair praised the FDNY for “valiantly extinguishing” the blaze, and also thanked their kitchen staff for having “the presence of mind to shut off the gas before safely exiting the premises”.

They added: “Their quick-thinking action averted a much worse situation and we are grateful.”

Firefighters are now investigating the cause of the fire and the full extent of the damage is now being determined.

But the owners said they are “fully committed to reopening as soon as possible and remediating any and all damage”.

They added: “The Dead Rabbit is no stranger to adversity, having opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The bar will bounce back, a bit bruised perhaps, but unbowed, and ready, willing and able to serve our guests.

“In the meantime, everyone’s patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated during this difficult time.”

Hundreds of people from around the world have taken to social media to send words of support in the wake of the fire.

Sean and Jack set up the Dead Rabbit in 2013 after working together in the Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Not your typical Irish pub abroad

Like many others, I was gutted to learn that the Dead Rabbit had been damaged in a fire, writes Stephen Gamble.

On a visit to the Big Apple last year, I made a point of stopping in at the famous watering hole – for research purposes of course – to see if it lived up to its billing as the world’s best pub. It quickly became apparent what makes this place so special.

While the downstairs taproom gives visitors a more traditional Irish pub vibe, the main attraction is the upstairs cocktail bar, and while there was a bit of a wait to get in, it was more than worth it.

With its unique atmosphere and decor, overwhelming selection of drinks, and friendly and attentive staff, it is easy to see why the Dead Rabbit features so highly in many ‘best of’ lists. It brings the traditional Irish pub into the 21st century.