“Donovan’s At 50: A Constant In A Changing Neighborhood” by Michael Stahl
Photo by Michael Stahl

Sit at the end of the bar at Donovan’s Pub long enough and you might learn the names of every resident in Woodside. Each time the swinging doors squeak and a patron passes beyond the signature stained glass windows, they find themselves part of a welcoming roll call. “Hey Bobby… What’s going on Sammy… Good afternoon Mrs. Sheeran…” The ritual is nothing if not natural; after all, at any given time the bartender on duty could have gone to grade school with most of their present company.

On a gorgeous December Sunday, Donovan’s regulars forego what might be their last chance to enjoy a daytrip to a nearby park until spring, and instead seek the lair that is, as its website calls it, a “landmark gathering place.” The recently mounted flat screen TVs inside will most prominently feature the all-New York football contest of the Jets vs. Giants, and by a quarter to 1 p.m. each seat at the bar is filled, a clear line of demarcation in the middle separating the green- and blue-clad boosters. A husky, silver-haired former fireman named Charlie defiantly dons a Dolphins jersey behind the bar. He’ll take care of the greetings, along with the pouring today.

More of the thirsty and the hungry stream in throughout the afternoon, occupying tables in the restaurant’s three main rooms, adding to the pleasantly raucous atmosphere where ribbing, that’s not always gentle, will persist.

“Oh, no,” one man with a shaved head and a gray-peppered goatee says upon entering and observing Charlie in his stead. “You again.”

The bartender retorts: “What do you think I think when I see you coming through the door?”

Soon celebrating 50 years in business, Donovan’s — traditionally pronounced with no discernible stress on any syllable and short u’s on the o’s — has long since been established as more than a watering hole, but a local institution. Still, it took the subtle, yet daring efforts of two “neighborhood guys” to rescue the quaint corner bar from catastrophe…

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Originally published at queenstribune.com on January 14, 2016. Click the link to read the complete story.

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