New owner for historic First Ward tavern

March 8, 2012 Updated Mar 8, 2012 at 8:03 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

March 8, 2012 Updated Mar 8, 2012 at 8:03 AM EDT

A landmark Old First Ward bar that has served as a neighborhood anchor and destination for decades has been sold.

Local businessman Bill Metzger has purchased Gene McCarthy's, a Hamburg Street bar that for generations has been the gathering place for local residents. Metzger bought the bar and its Hamburg Street real estate from Gerhardt Yaskow and Russell Maxwell.

Metzger said he will pay homage to McCarthy's legacy, but at the same time, he has some new plans in the works including creating a small, microbrewery that will serve homemade beers such as pale ales. The ales will be sold under the Old First Ward Brewing Co. moniker, the same corporate entity that Metzger created to buy McCarthy's.

"We see ourselves as a beer bar, which is a big part of McCarthy's history," Metzger said.

Metzger, who grew up in Peekskill but recently moved to the Old First Ward, said he is well aware of McCarthy's legacy.

"Absolutely, I plan to maintain the historic nature of McCarthy's," Metzger said.

The late Gene McCarthy bought the bar in 1962 and sold it about a decade ago. He passed away last year.

The bar has been operating along Hamburg Street for decades before McCarthy took it over. It was a favorite after-work spot for the neighborhood workers including those who were employed in the nearby grain and steel mills.

That means beside selling national brands, McCarthy's will stock locally produced beers from Flying Bison and Pearl Street Brewery. Other beers from microbreweries in New York will be offered.

New York state has more than 70 microbreweries.

"People love these micro and craft beers," Metzger said.

The expanded beer selection aside, Metzger said he plans to still offer such McCarthy's favorites as fish frys, chicken wings and beef on weck. Also coming will be such traditional Irish fare as Shepherd's Pie and corned beef and cabbage.

"I am a big fan of the neighborhood pub and McCarthy's is exactly that," Metzger said. "What Gene did is definitely a legacy we have to live up to."

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