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The Leif Bar to re-open in Bay Ridge

Residents rejoice as bartenders revive 55-year-old Irish bar

The Brooklyn Paper
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A beloved Bay Ridge watering hole is getting a new leif on life.

The Leif Bar — which closed in 2012 — will return to its old spot at the corner of Senator Street and Fifth Avenue next month, thanks to two longtime bartenders.

“The Leif was a landmark. It’s a shame it ever closed,” said Kenny Graham, who poured beer at the 55-year-old pub for more than a decade — and is bringing it back now with partner Michael Gallagher, a 20-year-veteran of the tavern.

An Irish bar with a Nordic name, the Leif’s closure seemed like the death knell of Bay Ridge’s once-dominant Celtic and Scandinavian culture in a corner of the neighborhood that has become largely Arabic. But its former owners say that they closed down from pure exhaustion.

“It was a lot of work, and after so many years, it was enough,” said Julie Walsh, whose father founded the Leif in 1967.

Walsh’s family owns the building, and they soon leased it to a new establishment, the Corner Kitchen and Bar. After the Corner Kitchen closed last month, Walsh said she was overjoyed when Graham and Gallagher approached her about bringing back the Leif.

“I feel good about it, because everybody loved the Leif, and they still do,” said Walsh. “Everybody missed it.”

Graham said he feels confident that the venture will be a success, even though the area around the bar has dramatically changed.

“When you got a bar that was there 50 years, people are going to want to come back,” the tap man said. “We’re going to have the right clientele. We’re going to succeed.”

The Leif’s second coming — slated for next month — is already winning plaudits from old customers missing its atmosphere and hearty Irish fare.

“I’m thrilled to see the real Leif come back,” said Ridge leader and man-about-town Larry Morrish. “They always had the best corned beef sandwiches.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Lawrence Hayes from bay ridge says:
Glad to hear that they are coming back !! !!!
April 25, 2014, 2:22 pm
Diane Kelly Berkey from Bay Ridge Brooklyn says:
THANK YOU MICHAEL & KENNY!!! YOU are the IRISH GODS ANSWER to ALL of OUR PRAYERS!!! LOVED the LIEF!! MR. GENE RILEY would be SOOOOOOOO PROUD!!!!!!!!! YEAH for USSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!!!!!!!!
April 25, 2014, 4:54 pm
Emily Flynn from Sunset Park says:
So glad to hear that the Leif is coming back. We had many Christenings and Communions there. Loved it! Great food and great people. Good luck , guys!
April 25, 2014, 5 pm
jmcg says:
All I can say yahoooooooooo
April 25, 2014, 6:41 pm
Bernardine Whalen, from Breezy Point says:
I am very happy that the Leif will be returning brace to it's original spot. I belong to the Clan Eireann Pipe Band and we would practice in the back room for years. I hope we will be able to return back there again, I always loved this place, and they did have the best corn beef sandwiches and on the Norweigen Day parade they made the best Lopskow (I think that is how you spell it) sandwiches ever. I wish them Good Luck.
April 25, 2014, 6:59 pm
Bernardine Whalen from Breezy Point says:
Correcton I am glad they will be back.
April 25, 2014, 7:05 pm
Bernardine Whalen from Breezy Point says:
I am glad that they will be back, this is a correction from my original post.
April 25, 2014, 7:07 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
What good news.

Keep it cold lads, I will be there.
April 25, 2014, 8:46 pm
Judi Fitz from Dyker Heights says:
So very happy it is back!! Lots of Bay Ridge St. Patrick's Day parties there!! Had my sons high school graduation party there just before it closed. I only wish it opened a little sooner so we could have had our little guy's Communion party there next week. Glad they are back! Good luck!
April 25, 2014, 9:06 pm
diehipster from Actual Brooklyn says:
Great news. Long Live Actual Brooklyn!
April 25, 2014, 9:33 pm
melissa from bay ridge says:
Thank.goodness
April 25, 2014, 11 pm
Christopher from Bay Ridge says:
This is absolutely amazing! A piece of old Bay Ridge coming back, fondest memories. I will be going there for sure!
April 25, 2014, 11:20 pm
Pete from Bay Ridge says:
THIS is GREAT!
April 26, 2014, 2:11 am
Danny from sunset park/Staten island says:
It's great that the lief will be back have a lot of great memories from there thanks Mike and Kenny.
April 26, 2014, 5:48 am
George from Bay Ridge says:
Great people, great watering hole and a great back room to throw a party. Long live The Lief!
April 26, 2014, 6:50 am
Joe from Fairfield, Ct from Bay Ridge says:
Although I'm not Irish, I was lucky enough to marry a beautiful Irish Norwegian girl from "The Ridge". Her brother in law is deeply involved with the Clan Eireann Pipe Band. We spent many a St Patrick's Day and Norweigean Day retreating there after the parades. Great food, cold beer, the best people. Good luck on the re-opening.
April 26, 2014, 7:52 am
Gennaro from bay ridge says:
The home away from home is back !!!!!! Great job Kenny and Mike . See ya there..............
April 26, 2014, 7:54 am
Gennaro from bay ridge says:
The home away from home is back !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great job Kenny and Mike . I will be there .....................
April 26, 2014, 7:55 am
Joe from Staten Island says:
Wish you the Best of Luck! Gene Riley would be proud. Was in Clann Eirren bagpipe band from 1986 to 1998 Great times. Good for Bay Ridge! Again Good Luck and God Bless!
April 26, 2014, 8:41 am
Joanie from sunset park/ now Florida says:
I'll be up in July...can't wait to visit the Lief again
April 26, 2014, 9:41 pm
Eileen Wright from park slope says:
Congrats Kenney and Michael
April 27, 2014, 6:37 pm
Frank D from Bay Ridge says:
Great News! So many memories here, from my college days right up until recent years with Mike at the bar, I look forward to the re-opening and having this bar back in my backyard. Best of luck to Mike & his partner.
April 27, 2014, 6:47 pm
Maria from Bayride says:
Cant wait kenny and mike be there with a bunch of us.
April 27, 2014, 8:42 pm
Joe joe from Park slope says:
The gang will be there yes yes !!!!!!!
April 28, 2014, 2:33 pm
Richie &Lorigirl from Bay Ridge says:
Great News! Kenny & Mike all the best! We'll see you on opening day the first round is on Colgate!
April 29, 2014, 3:09 pm
Richie &Lorigirl from Bay Ridge says:
Great News! Kenny & Mike! See you on opening day! Colgate is buying the first round!
April 29, 2014, 3:11 pm
the jack hammer from sunset park crew says:
The best to Kenny & Mike two true bartenders (it will be assume to be there on open day to enjoy a couple of cold ones and listen to some sound and enjoy good company."the very best"
April 29, 2014, 3:27 pm
Amir from Bay Ridge says:
Sorry guys I live near the bar so not looking forward AGAIN to the drunken nights, car services, rowdy and noisy crowds during the weekends until closing time.
May 10, 2014, 2:23 pm
Katie from Bay ridge says:
Will you be open for the parade Sunday?
May 13, 2014, 6:47 pm
Katie from Bay ridge says:
So exciting - will you be open Sunday for the parade?
May 13, 2014, 6:47 pm
Reggie & Jen from SunSet park & Staten Island says:
good luck cant wait
May 15, 2014, 2:02 pm
Frank from bay ridge says:
Great to hear!
July 13, 2014, 9:07 pm
cathy from derry ireland says:
Congrats mike and Kenny all the best for the future x
July 29, 2014, 9:26 am
Joanie from Bay Ridge says:
Great news to hear about an old Bay Ridge institution reopening...not closing! Can't wait to go back there and celebrate Norwegian Day like old times!!!
Sept. 27, 2014, 10:33 am
Dwayne from stuyvesant heights says:
I used to pop in there as vendor and the riley family treated me so nice.
June 5, 2017, 12:52 pm

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