Name: Peter Walsh
Name of business: Coogan’s.
Location: Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Peter Walsh is at the helm of a legendary New York watering hole which is also celebrated as a symbol of the renaissance of Washington Heights: Coogan’s.
“There was a huge crime rate up here in 1985 when we opened, but it was a place where Dominican families could come and be safe, and doctors and nurses from Columbia-Presbyterian hospital could come and unwind,” he told the New York Daily News last November as Coogan’s celebrated its 26th birthday. “But the Dominicans came and they made us.”
Central to the success of Coogan’s is Walsh himself. A dynamo, he encapsulates the best traditions of Irish bartending, lending a listening ear to patrons, a beaming smile and top-notch food and drink.
Among the many initiatives which have made the bar and restaurant the indisputable hub of Washington Heights is the annual Coogan’s Salza Blues and Shamrocks 5k which attracts thousands of runners.
“Here, even the décor and menu reflect the diversity in the neighborhood,” declares Coogan’s website. “Posters of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy are hung side by side with pictures of Leonel Fernandez Reyna, President of the Dominican Republic.”