Every week, Our Town will celebrate our 45th anniversary by profiling a neighborhood business that has been around longer than we have. Know of a local business that should be on our list? Email us at email@example.com
Reif’s Tavern opened for business on East 92nd St. in 1942. Rosie Yurasits first ventured inside, under-age, in 1946, for a couple of rum and cokes. She’s now 82 years old and you can find her tending bar every Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. Yurasits has a devoted following of customers and says Reif’s has changed much over the decades. “I call it ‘the neighborhood family bar’ because everyone meets here,” she said.
On a recent Tuesday, Chris Grondahl, 47, scoots up to the bar, and without even having to order, Yurasits brings over a small ice-filled pail topped with 6, 7-ounce Bud Light Nips. The “Bucket o’ Beer” is a manager’s special and costs $10. Grondahl, who lives across the street, has been coming after work for about 15 years. “My father knew the place and I appreciate the long history,, plus people from all walks of life come here, which makes for a special environment,” he said.
Kenny Goldstein, 62, has been drinking and mingling at Reif’s for over 30 years. On that same late Tuesday afternoon, sipping on what he calls “my own concoction” of vodka, red wine and lime juice, Goldstein, known as Kenny G to the regulars, called his longtime stomping ground, “one of the last of the old time places… a classic.”
The front room has a number of flat-screen televisions and a long bar. Walk further back and you’ll find a roomy space with a pool table, Golden Tee video game, and wall-to-wall photos of New York Yankee and New York Giants history. Co-owner Taryn Reif calls them “our family teams” and even offers drink specials during Yankee games. She jokes that other teams such as the New York Mets can be watched on their smaller televisions.
Venture even further out back, and you will find what makes Reif’s Tavern unique. An outdoor patio, equipped with a large grill, which patrons can reserve year round. Reif calls the space a “surprise outdoor oasis” and “pretty key to the business.”
Reif, 39, has been co-owner, with her mother Barbara, since 2003. She recalls what took place during the blackout in the summer of 2003 with particular fondness. “We were one of the only businesses open and we hosted a couple of hundred residents who had no power,” she said. “People brought all of the food from their fridges, acoustic instruments and we had a giant impromptu cookout/sing along until 6 a.m. … Everyone got along and took care of each other in a safe place. That was pretty amazing.”
Not all has been “amazing” for the 73-year old tavern. It’s located around the corner from the years-long Second Avenue subway construction, which Reif calls “horrible for years.” The work has cost the bar in revenue.
But she says business has picked up more during the past year and is grateful that so many locals show up nearly every single day. “It has been a mess and a struggle, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Subway tunnel, that is.