For The Den’s owner, Jimmy Boyle, Sept. 28 was a particularly happy day: the Inwood bar’s 50th anniversary.
“Fifty years goes by so fast,” Boyle said. “It feels like yesterday that my family and I opened this place.”
Boyle’s father, James Sr., opened The Den, at 205 Sheridan Blvd., in 1962. When he died three years later, James Jr., now 70, took over, and has been the owner ever since. “I owe it all to my father,” Boyle said. “I’ve been very fortunate, as the days of local taverns are almost a thing of the past.”
Many of The Den’s customers have flocked to the only bar in Inwood for years, and almost all agree that they come for the friendly atmosphere, and for Boyle himself. Lifelong Inwood resident Joe Capone calls Boyle one of his best friends. “He’s nice, generous and would do anything for anybody,” Capone said. “I hope The Den never changes because you can’t find places like this anymore.”
Andrew Schmitt Sr., a Meadowmere Park resident, has been coming to The Den for the entire half-century it has been open. “It’s a great local bar, and there are a lot of nice people here,” Schmitt said. “You always see someone you know, and I hope this place stays just the way it is.”
Though the atmosphere on The Den’s gold anniversary was joyful, it was tinged with sadness because a few regulars were missing. Longtime bartender Joey Dowling died in June; Boyle’s brother, Pat, died in February 2011; and many of the bar’s customers still fondly remember Inwood resident Juan Colon, a frequent customer who died in 2007.
Randy Dunn, a bartender for 20 years, wished Dowling had been there to celebrate. “It’s a big loss that Joey’s not here,” Dunn said.
He added that he is thankful to have Boyle in his life and hopeful about the bar’s future. “Jimmy is like a second father to me, and he’s like wine — he gets better with age,” Dunn said. “I hope the bar is here for another 50 years.”
Tim Hickey, who has filled in as a bartender for the past six years, has known Boyle since he was a child. It was Hickey’s grandfather who took Boyle’s father to look at the bar five decades ago. “I know they’re both smiling down from heaven,” Hickey said. “It’s important to me to carry on this friendship, and I hope Jimmy doesn’t get tired. He’s the last of the Mohicans.”
Boyle said he knows his father would be proud of him if he saw him today, and added that he is determined to carry on the family business. “I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said. “I’d like to thank all my customers for all they’ve given me over the years, because without them I’d have