The customers inside Pauline’s bar on Broadway, on an average weekday afternoon, might best have been described as eclectic.
A teacher; an aspiring documentary filmmaker; a local rapper; a retired man whose profession, like many of the words he spoke, was indistinguishable; and maybe even a cop or two.
Just down the block from the 50th Precinct stationhouse on West 236th Street, Pauline O’Sullivan’s eponymous bar served up beer, food and no-nonsense ambiance for 46 years until it closed last week.
“The burgers were never frozen, hand-made every time,” Carl Raymo, an occasional customer and employee of nearby Security Equipment Bureau said.
“If this place closed no one would care, they could go to one of the 3,500 more,” Mr. Raymo said as he pointed at the McDonald’s across the street. “Places like Pauline’s need the community’s support and they don’t get it.”
Ms. O’Sullivan bought the bar in 1965 for $5,000.
“I’ve never had a bad day since,” Ms. O’Sullivan said, sitting in her black Lincoln MKS car outside the now-shuttered establishment on July 8, as the No. 1 train rolled along the creaky tracks overhead. A year later she bought the building, 5753 Broadway, for an undisclosed amount.
In the decades that followed, Pauline’s became known as a popular hangout for police officers. But eventually, off-duty carousing just down the street from a stationhouse became a no-no in the NYPD. A police source said that for “a while” starting in 2009, officers were forbidden from going to Pauline’s, but that the restriction was recently lifted.
One particular incident involving a police officer shined a spotlight on the dive beneath the train tracks.
The Bronx District Attorney’s alleged that Kevin Spellman, a detective with the elite Bronx Fugitive Task Force, was driving home from Pauline’s on Oct. 30, 2009, when he hit and killed 67-year-old Drane Nikac at 6:30 a.m. on Kingsbridge Avenue.
Even with her bar closed, Ms. O’Sullivan is still sensitive to the needs of her former law enforcement customers.