Goodbye Smithfield NYC, A Fantastic Sports Bar
When I moved to NYC from Virginia the first mission was to find a pub for Premier League matches. I was lucky enough to be introduced to two by way of the NY Reds. But there was something about Smithfield that felt like home.
In Virginia I had a family owned pub called Conklin’s. I spent most of my time there from even before I was old enough to drink. It was my heaven, my mecca, and my sanctuary. I spent holidays, birthdays, dates, and of course match days there. The staff became family. Sadly, their landlord raised the rent on them to an unreasonable and unobtainable price. They were forced to move to another location several miles away and subsequently closed. I’ve been searching for something a kin to this for the last 2 and a half years.
Enter Smithfield and the NY Reds. I had my family back and a part of my passion I had lost since losing Conklin’s. And every week (sometimes several times in a week), we were there. Then I fell in love with this place. I found myself just going in for dinner, and then I found myself just going in to see the bar staff and catch up. I sent all my visiting friends there and brought anyone who stayed with me there too. Because everything about Smithfield was special, from top to bottom; food, booze, sports, and of course the people.
Right before Christmas we got the news that they would have to close. History was sadly repeating itself. Another greedy developer has taken the land right from underneath them to build a 21-story apartment building. Smithfield would be closing December 31st.
The remainder of the year I spent almost everyday there with my Reds family.
For us this isn’t just an average sports bar, or a post work drink establishment, or a place to show up occasionally for an event. No, it’s different for us. We live here, we love here, we celebrate here, and we mourn here, always together. And this bar was built and run by amazing people who are cut from the same cloth and understand what places like this mean, the weight that they hold in our lives. The kind of people who put their everything into Smithfield and the kind of people you are honored to know and even more honored to call friends.
I had a really beautiful and unexpected moment while heading to Smithfield for the last time on New Year’s Eve. My dear friend and ex-bartender of Conklin’s just happened to be in NY. I told him to meet me there. I gave him a farewell tour and as a fellow Red it couldn’t have been better. I introduced him to my ‘new’ bartender friends as the ‘original’ them. And walking out that last time, hugging my dear bartenders good-bye, it felt real that it was done. And with tears in my eyes I missed them already.
I hope Kieron, Thomas, Eddie, Riain, Aaron, Fitzy and all the others know how much they mean to us. We will follow you wherever you go. You created something that is genuine and admirable. We are behind you and can’t wait for the new location.
And thank you for making my first year in NYC a very memorable one.
PS: I was and remain the mayor of Smithfield on FourSquare.
Watch their Facebook page for new location updates: www.facebook.com/SmithfieldNYC