Thursday, January 10, 2013

Update: More debate over Mahar's impending closing

Mahar's and now-sister-establishment Cafe Madison.
Updated from 1/9/13 e-mail:

Bar owner Jim Mahar says his business will remain open through February 14, its 24th anniversary, before making way for new ownership of the building housing his business. Meanwhile, lots of finger-pointing is going on. See comments string.

(Story originally published 1/1/13)

ALBANY -- What has grown from a simple pizzeria to a string of restaurants and pubs in two decades is getting a little bigger.

BM&T Management Group, which began with a Crestwood Plaza pizzeria named Spinners under Michael Viglucci Jr., has bought Mahar's Public Bar, a long-popular watering hole in the Pine Hils neighborhood.

Mahar's will be closed, revamped, then reopened under the new owners as Madison House Pour, according to Times Union blogger Steve Barnes. The business is located at 1110 Madison Avenue.

However, according to comments made to another TU writer by bar owner Jim Mahar, the transition isn't without its negative aspects.

Mahar says he was "shellshocked" by the sale of the building and his resulting ouster without, he claims, any notice to him.

BMT Management, which incudes Michael and Brian Viglucci and Tony Lounello, also own four other Madison Avenue businesses -- The Point Restaurant and Lounge, Cafe Madison (located next door to Mahar's), Juniors, and Pub 869 -- as well as Spinners on Picotte Drive, Stone Crow on Yates Street, and BM&T Catering.

Mahar's was founded on Valentine’s Day 1989. The sale apparently does not affect its co-owned Mahar's at 14 South Main Street in Castleton-on-Hudson.

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  1. Joe Brown writes:

    I have never been to Mahar’s in part because of the perception of surly/arrogant service. Seems like just desserts to me!

  2. Mike writes:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Joe Brown. I have never perceived arrogance or any type of attitude like that while having a drink at Mahars. In fact, it probably is one of the most laid back bars I have ever been to.

  3. Jim L. writes:

    If he was “shellshocked” by having to immediately leave the place he rents, then it is his own fault. He should have had a lease for a specific term, which would survive the sale. The new owner has no responsibility or need for loyalty to this stranger.

  4. Buster Casey writes:

    I agree with Joe Brown. I love beer, but I went there just once. Far from a positive experience. The surly barkeep was such a rude guy, I had to leave. I say good riddens!

  5. Guy looking over my shoulder wants to know what “riddens” are.

  6. Thomas writes:

    Riddens are those annoying sweat secretions you get in private places after exercising -- accumulate dirt etc – you get the picture – nasty.

  7. clifjay37 writes:

    BMT has no legal obligation to Mahars, no lease? he was a renter month to month, 30 days notice and he’s gone. Business is business. As far as the bartenders attitude is concerned if you’re going to bars to have a positive experience with the help then you need help, lots of help….

  8. Jay writes:

    #1 and #4 are in the right. It is widely accepted in the Capital Region that the ogre behind the bar isn’t friendliest guy in the world (to put it very very nicely). I haven’t been back there in almost 3 years because of his arrogant service. If they fire the ogre I will go back to it’s grand re-opening.

  9. Old Gregg writes:

    Joe Brown, if you’ve never even been to Mahar’s, why would you feel obliged to comment publicly on the surly/arrogant service there, i.e. something that you have no first hand knowledge of whatsoever?

    Jim L, I guess you embrace the idea of a world where money & legally binding contracts are the only things that matter, not traditions or consideration for others. That’s an ugly world in my opinion.

    I’m not a regular, but I’ve enjoyed my occasional nights there for over ten years now. The bar & its staff had their own personalities, maybe not for everyone, but I would take them over a generic bar anytime.

  10. bocuse writes:

    If you are operating a business in a space without a lease, then it shouldn’t come as any surprise if a: you are asked to leave in favor of a new tenant or b) asked to leave because the owner has sold the building you occupy. A business is only as sound as the lease it does or does not have.

    I love Mahar’s but the place suffered from obvious neglect for a few years now…likely due to the opening of the 2nd location. RIP.

  11. T. Wayne Lucas III writes:

    I could have told this story a thousand times over, but here is the most recent submission on

    “I’ve been coming here for ten years and am pretty close to getting the t-shirt. Tonight I brought 3 distinguished visitors, men in their 60s, who ordered higher-priced items.

    "After we were mostly through our first round the bartender came over, gave one of my companions a shove, and said 'you have a whole f*cking bar and you have to stand here?' The place was moderately full; it was not obvious where else we could or should stand. Ten minutes later the scene was repeated. Pretty embarrassing for me. I won’t be returning anytime soon.”

    No, I did not pen that. But I could have, as I said, a thousand times over. Sad. No, not that they’re closing – but the way they have treated what used to be known as “the customer” over the years.

  12. not exactly writes:

    Jim L. — “stranger??” The Vigiluccis (the new owner) have owned a business attached to Mahars for 10+ years!

    You’re right though, no one owes anyone anything. The world is a cutthroat place and Mahars just got sliced.

  13. Woodrow writes:

    #5 Bill – Tell the guy looking over your shoulder it’s not nice to hassle a poster on your blog for imperfect spelling, esp. of a slang expression…


  14. BigJoe writes:

    Thanks for clarifying what riddens are, i had wondered myself.

    Beer plays a central part in my decision of where to eat and drink in Capitaland. With such an awesome selection, Mahar’s should be a natural regular stop for me. Well, not the case. I’ve probably been there twice in the last five years; mainly to meet someone else who suggested it.

    Why? The combination of Mr Personality behind the bar and the wonderful 80′s era PC-based beer listing system. I inquired about a not so uncommon beer and was met with eye rolls and sent to the list, which as I recall is not exactly alphabetized or easy to follow. Very annoying experience, every time I’ve set foot in the place.

    But, lucky for us, great beer is available all over now. Mahar’s is the Blockbuster of craft beer outlets. It’s been replaced by a myriad of shiny, more convenient and customer-friendly alternatives.

    nice little monopoly those fellas have going there on Madison. more power to ‘em.

  15. Woodrow:

    Questioning misspelling/misuse/ignorance-of common English words isn’t something I count as being a “hassle.” So sorry you do.

    The Internet has done wonders for communication, but also created horrors for spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity of expression. I, for one, refuse to accept that.

  16. Jenny Finzo writes:

    Cheers to you, Bill!

  17. Woodrow writes:

    Bill – Fair enough…


  18. MK writes:

    The Internet has done wonders for communication, but also created horrors for spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity of expression. I, for one, refuse to accept that.

    BMT Management, which incudes Michael and Brian Viglucci and Tony Lounello

    what does incudes mean

  19. Beer Girl writes:

    No lease. No backup plan. No money to move. A great business plan …

    Regulars received an e-mail from Jim Mahar yesterday. Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail:

    “BMT has generously agreed to allow us to remain through our 24th anniversary on February 14. We are looking at a few properties to move the bar but nothing is certain.

    “If we are unable to fund a move we will either offer the name tour and equipment for sale or move the tour to Castleton. [Editor's Note: That is the location of Mahar's other tavern.]

    “We encourage anyone with a mug to pick it up for safety and within the week we will begin a mailing list for anyone owed a T-shiry, mug, etc. In the meantime we have our truck back and will be making road trips for new beer.”

  20. MK: Good catch of that typo. It has been fixed. Thanks.

    Incidentally, in future comments you may want to consider ending a question with a question mark and, when quoting someone else directly, using quotation marks.

  21. John writes:

    I used to go here when the place first opened in ’89. Huge upgrade from the Farfield’s that preceeded it. I did miss the little critters skittering across the filthy carpet, though, but got used to their absence.

    In those first years it was a wonderfully warm and friendly place. If more than 5 or 6 folks showed up at once, the owner ordered a couple pizzas and gave them away.

    Then it got trendy with lines outside on Friday nights. Then the Arrogant guy started working and it lost a little of its early charm. Tried to sit at a table rather than hang out in the bar area.
    At its height, there wasn’t a better place to have a very interesting beer and pleasant conversation. I miss that place.