In a neighborhood where shiny outposts of big-name retailers have displaced the little stores and restaurants where everybody seemed to know everybody else, a longtime holdout is finally planning a last last call.
The Emerald Inn, which survived on Columbus Avenue as the Upper West Side reinvented itself as a pricier and pricier neighborhood, will close on April 30, the owners said.
“It’s rent,” said Charlie Campbell, whose grandfather opened the Emerald Inn during World War II. “It’s really sad.”
The monthly payment would have come to $35,000 if the lease had been renewed, he said. He has been paying $17,500 a month under a deal worked out in 2011.
Mike Clarke, an owner of the A.J. Clarke Real Estate Corporation, which manages the apartment building that houses the Emerald Inn, would not discuss the exact amount the landlord had sought for a lease renewal. But he did not dispute Mr. Campbell’s figures.
Mr. Clarke said the storefront the Emerald Inn has occupied since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president and Fiorello H. La Guardia was mayor would become a Kate Spade clothing store. It will be the chain’s third shop in Manhattan.
The Emerald, as its regulars call it, has come close to closing before. In 2009, there was talk of a final goodbye, but because the recession was deepening and new tenants were suddenly in short supply, Mr. Campbell managed to negotiate a rent increase he could handle.
A couple of other old-time Irish bars in the neighborhood have struggled against the same daunting economics. Malachy’s Donegal Inn, at 103 West 72nd Street, faced a March 1 closing date but won a reprieve and will remain open at least through the end of the year.
“It’s to the point where anybody who’s still left is paying an exorbitant amount of money,” Mr. Campbell said.
The Emerald’s regulars have their memories:
Of the Christmas Eve scene in the movie “The Apartment” that was filmed there. (One thing led to another after Hope Holiday pelted Jack Lemmon with straw-paper wrappers.)
Of the time Hugh Downs’s secretary walked in with a copy of Bartender magazine. (Mike Campbell, Charlie Campbell’s father, said he had thrown out his copy without bothering to read it. The secretary pointed to an article quoting Mr. Downs on his favorite bars. “He had picked someplace in Africa,” Mike Campbell said, “and the Emerald Inn.”)
Of the time the bass-baritone Bryn Terfel sang “Danny Boy.” Of star turns by the likes of Regis Philbin, Liam Neeson and Howard Stern. Of stars who sat at the bar, reading a book, and were left alone. (James Gandolfini, when “The Sopranos” was still new.)
Of network-news expense accounts that once seemed limitless. “They can’t afford to go out in this area anymore,” Mr. Campbell said. “They can’t afford to spend $8 for a drink, $9 for a drink.”
Of “The Pint Man,” a 2010 novel that involves a love story and a lot of scenes in a bar that seemed to be the Emerald in everything but name.
“I’m devastated,” said Steve Rushin, the sportswriter who wrote “The Pint Man.” And no wonder. The Emerald was where he had his first date with Rebecca Lobo, then a women’s basketball star.
“We met at the Dublin House” — another Irish bar on the Upper West Side — “but I thought I’d class it up by taking her to the Emerald Inn,” he said. “It was like a home away from home, an extension of people’s apartments. If you have a one-room apartment, this was like the front room. I remember sitting in that second booth on the right, waiting for the woman who is now my wife to walk through that swinging door.”
Michael Morfit, an investment banker and youth lacrosse coach, said the Emerald’s closing would be another sad moment for the neighborhood. “We’ve lost a lot of the traditional places around here,” he said, standing at the bar on a recent afternoon. “I see people who’d come here and they say, ‘Where are we going to go now?’”
Charlie Campbell said he was looking for a new storefront on a side street. His 24-year-old son, Charles III, who was tending the bar on a recent afternoon, said he had taken the licensing test to be a plumber.
“As a backup,” Charles III said, in case the search for a new place drags on.
For his part, Mr. Clarke, the managing agent, said he was sorry to see the Campbells leave.
“They’re very nice people,” he said. “We’ve had a wonderful relationship.” But he said the two sides were too far apart on money this time around.