Brooklyn’s oldest bar, in Carroll Gardens, to reopen as Ryan’s

P.J. Hanley’s to return with new, old name

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Drinkers rejoice — P.J. Hanley’s is coming back, but you’re going to have to call it “Ryan’s”

Carroll Garden’s beloved watering hole and pub, which suddenly closed in March, will soon reopen under its original 19th century moniker.

Owners of the the 139-year-old saloon, which has been known as P.J. Hanley’s since the 1950s, are back on good terms with their landlords and will reopen in the coming months, ending a closure that began when barkeep James McGown filed for bankruptcy and closed the joint on Court St. between Third Place and Fourth Place.

“He’s been paying the rent and doing whatever it is he has to do,” said Deborah Hanley, the landlord and former operator of the bar, who confirmed the plans.

Back in March, things weren’t so peachy. McGown said he was readying a bankruptcy auction and that he had several investors interested in buying the watering hole that opened in 1874.

But the sale never happened. Since then, the bar with the colorful history has been shuttered, with paper covering the windows.

Legend has it that mobster Al Capone held his wedding reception at the bar after getting married at the nearby St. Mary Star of the Sea. In the ’50s, John Hanley bought the pub, renamed it, and ran it until 1995, when he sold it to his nieces. They kept the bar going for nine years. In 2005, the nieces sold the business to McGown, but continued to own the building.

Even though the bankruptcy is no longer in play, McGown and Hanley are still battling in court over issues related to building repairs.

Hanley said she was sad that McGown has decided to change the name.

“It’s been in our family for so many years,” she said. “But it was Ryan’s before it was Hanley’s.”

McGown declined to comment on when the bar will reopen or its pending name change.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I'm glad this place is back whatever the name is.
May 21, 2013, 9:08 am
jjburkard from redhook says:
When PJ's expanded outside they neglected their kitchen....The cooks were not experienced, though they worked hard, the quality of the menu was drastically opinion, if your going for fancy dishes, you need to hire a fancy dish chef....Otherwise stick to the basics like burgers and fries (but not those rubbery frozen potatoes....Also most beer drinkers prefer draft beer to the watery bottled, it's tastier.....And it was certainly becomng a hangout for Moms and their kids.....Probably noisily annoying to the neighbors also...Beer gardens belong in the suburbs, not the city.....JjB.....
July 24, 2013, 5:52 am
Thera from Carroll Gardens says:
It's a shame that the owner is so verbally abusive to his employees, right in front of paying & happy guests. I've lived in the neighborhood for 5 years & brought a fried here today. She loved the bartender, the history, the food & staff..all until the owner came in & started berating his (very good) employees right in front of her. Disgusting. I'll never go back, and that's a real shame. On him.
Aug. 31, 2014, 3:56 pm
Thera from Carroll Gardens says:
Owner was verbally abusive & threading to his employees in front of guests.
Aug. 31, 2014, 3:59 pm

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