Rudy’s Bar and Grill, an iconic Manhattan watering hole, is back open after it had to close for the first time in a century amid the pandemic.
“This is one of the classics," said Danny DePamphilis, the general manager of Rudy’s, while shaking up a whiskey sour behind the bar. "It's unbelievable. People are happy again."
His world was turned upside down when the Hell’s Kitchen bar closed in March of last year due to COVID-19.
“It was a horror. Being closed for a few weeks or a month is one thing, but for 16 months?” DePamphilis said.
DePamphilis has been the manager since 2005. He said the clientele at the bar make the place special.
“The whole world drinks here. When I was bartending, I was serving three generations of people. I was serving the son, the father and the grandfather sometimes, all at the same time," DePamphilis said.
In the 16 months the bar was closed, DePamphilis said he used that time to renovate the ceiling, the bathrooms and install a new air filtration system.
He's confident with the timing of the bar's opening, even with the delta variant spreading.
"There is no virus that can survive in this bar. I have ultraviolet lights behind the bar, I have ultraviolet light air purification," DePamphilis said.
The Food and Drug Administration states that some types of ultraviolet light may be effective at inactivating the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there is limited data on the amount of UV light required to make a difference. Also, direct exposure to the light can cause injuries to skin and eyes.
When asked what took so long for the bar to open he said, "I could not have social distancing. I need people to sit next to each other."
People have been heading to the dive bar for more than a century.
"Rudy's was a speakeasy, but you did not have to speakeasy, you could just come in and when prohibition ended Rudy's was either the first or second liquor license issued in the state of New York," DePamphilis said.
And the tradition lives on. Regulars and people new to the iconic spot are thrilled to be there.
"Three dollar beers, free hot dogs, seeing all my friends," Chris Schiavello said, who added that he has been going to Rudy's since the 80s.
"Out of all the things, I think Rudy's is the best barometer that New York is back," said Akhil Patel, who was at Rudy's for the first time on Sunday.