By Bill Parry
When the Firewater Inn, located at 39-46 Skillman Ave., closed for renovations in April 2011, the owners never imagined that it would remain shut for about two years.
The revamp got delayed several times as the owners, the three McGowan brothers, struggled to get the building permits they needed.
“We had a crummy architect who didn’t understand the new zoning laws,” said Jimmy McGowan, who was raised in Sunnyside with his brothers.
When the bar reopens, the McGowans will rename it Jack’s Sunnyside Ale House in honor of their late father, who opened the Firewater in 1987. They’ll add a beer garden, a kitchen, and eventually a raw bar for the weekends.
“The whole neighborhood is changing,” Jimmy said. “We figured we had to change with the times and the culture.”
When their late father retired nine years ago, he turned the family business over to his sons, all firefighters. The bar became a self-described frat house, with a young and rowdy crowd. “No more cranking the music and no more pool table,” Jimmy said.
During their two year wait, John retired from the FDNY, while Brian and Jimmy have remained on active duty and expanded their families. “We each had a kid last year,” said Jimmy, “I had my third and Brian had his first.”
Brian, the youngest of the three, was named the Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club Man of the Year this summer after rescuing three young children from a fire in the Bronx.
“We’ve kept busy the last couple of years,” said Brian. “It’ll be good to get this place open again.”
They’re hoping to get the bar ready in time for the Super Bowl. However, Jimmy warns, “Unless the Mayan Apocalypse screws everything up.”