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Donovan’s Pub Reopens

Donovan’s (Photo: Queens Post)

July 9, 2011 Staff Report

Donovan’s Pub, which was closed by the Health Dept. on June 30, reopened Friday night.

Inside the pub, the menu board reads: “To All our Loyal Customers, Welcome Back.”

Joe Donovan, the owner of the famous Woodside establishment, located on the corner of 58th Street and Roosevelt Ave., is relying on the loyalty of his patrons to get the pub back up on its feet.  The bar, best known for its hamburgers, failed two successive health inspections and received an avalanche of bad press.

“We have been in business for 45 years and we have done people’s communion parties to funerals. We know the names of our customer’s, their kids and their grand-kids,” an Irish waitress, who spoke to the Sunnysidepost, said. She spoke on behalf of the restaurant, since Joe Donovan  was unavailable.

“Most people know that we have high standards,” the waitress said, pointing to the pub’s long history in Woodside. “Part of the problem is that the city is cash strapped. It’s picking on businesses.”

The waitress, who has worked at the bar for 14 years, said many staff members—from chefs to waitress– have been at the pub for decades. She said 40 people work at the pub, many of whom suffered from the closing.

Donovan’s opened in 1966, and quickly became the local hangout for Irish Americans looking for a traditional meal of meat and potatoes at an affordable price. The establishment did so well that it grew over the years from one dining room to four.

At the time of publication, the latest Health Report was unavailable.

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Click for Comments 
nicholas black

how could you allow these so called owners of a dinning establishment to get away with roach and or mice in the food areas.for years i have gone to this dump…and i always would say to my lunch date…this is a dirty filthy nasty joint….but the bacon cheese burger is pretty damn good.


Seems like the Inspector that was receiving all those Benjemins retired,
The Inspector could not be bought.


Seems like the Inspector that was receiving all those Benjemins retired,
The Inspector could not be bought.


My girl and I went to Donovan’s recently after some time away. We had no idea that they had been closed but quickly gathered that they had been and the reason why. We were given hand written menus and ordered the usual: two burgers with swiss. They were awful, for the first time. Overcooked and clearly without the addition of NY strip that they were said to have added… whatever, it was not the same burger. Did they get their meat from Champion that day?

Later, I noticed no inspection sticker on the front of the place, not a grade, not a “grade pending” isn’t that itself a violation?

I have read about this closing since. Mr Donovan must step forward and step up if he wishes to continue serving Woodside its drinks, shepherd’s pie, and burgers. If not, it is a nice place for someone to assumed who will.


Sunnyside Up –
They have an “A” rating issued on 12/22/2010.
They currently have 23 points which unless resolved would mean a “B” rating. They should be “Grade Pending” during the tribunal process before actually receiving the “B” rating. I’m not sure why they are still listed with an “A”.


just curious — does anybody really believe that Donovan’s had staffed 40 people — is it at one time or throughout the years — just wondering — if it is 40 employees, then 20 must be cockroaches lol


I am not impressed that a waitress working there does not take their own bad management seriously:

Most people know that we have high standards,” the waitress said, pointing to the pub’s long history in Woodside. “Part of the problem is that the city is cash strapped. It’s picking on businesses.”

For those of you thinking that inspectors give bad ratings because they want a payoff, you are disrespecting the people who are between you and food poisoning and rat feces in your food. This is not picking on business. If you can’t maintain basic sanitation, you have no business running a restaurant.


Maybe their were changes in Donavon’s with their kitchen help and management in the kitchen how else can you have problems and not solve them. they have been in business for so long how do you relax after a while. I would not want anyone to get sick . But being you have problems why not solve your problem. Sorry if I am making sound so easy I am not in the business of restaurnats to make that judgement.

Sunnyside Up

Their most recent inspection won them an “A” grade, HOWEVER they still scored 23 points. You can’t have more than 14 points to score an A. Hmmmm. Also the last 3 inspections say they have roaches (ick), including the most recent. I love Donovan’s, but I’ll wait until it is roach-free.


I recall that the Health Dept. inspectors (this was under Thomas Friedman, I believe) did not see the rats running around on Avenue of Americas at one of the franchise restaurants near the West 4th Street station (I think it was a KFC). The NY Post took photos of the rats jumping and dancing around. Yes, the same Health Dept. that suddenly is closing many restaurants in Sunnyside/Woodside.


i’m sure inspectors can be pricks, but a glance at the report shows that Donovans has an ongoing, months long problems with temperature (fridge above 41 two different inspections, no thermometer?!) cross contamination and roaches, mice and flies.

Sure, its NYC, but two scores in the 60’s, then 40 and 23 before reopening. No thanks. I’ll spend my money elsewhere.

thanks for the update sunnysidepost.


I find it amazng that our sunnyside and woodise have had a rash of restaruants that have been shut down or temp closed for problems in the kitchen are, cooking area.. Its not the restrooms nor the dinning area. Why not pay more attentin to the busiet part of the business so the customers keep the cash flowing.

Maybe we need to check out that agency and see what has chjnged with them. Business that have never been closed before are being closed is it the business or the city lets find out?

45th and Skillman

They got shut down because the city needs money?

Maybe having a waitress speak for you isn’t the best idea.

Christy Boy

I have lived in the neighborhood my whole life! Never have I heard anyone
complain in 43 years, nor anyone getting sick! Cold Beer and the best burger in N.Y.C by far! Everybody Lighten UP! Oh and don’t forget the French Onion Soup! It’s a Gem!


Customer: “Waiter there’s a fly in my soup.”
Waiter: “Really? We usually serve roaches and mice.”


Guess I’d avoid this one and I suppose there will be the usual personal attacks but here goes:

Donovan’s still has 23 violations. If you check the history it’s had roach/mice violations since Oct. 2010.

Violations from 07/08/2011 Inspection
Violation points: 23 – a “B” rating.

Establishment re-opened by DOHMH

Sanitary Violations
1) Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
2) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
4) Pesticide use not in accordance with label or applicable laws. Prohibited chemical used/stored. Open bait station used.


Those who have enjoyed a long reationship with Donovan’s will be back.
The complainers can just “go away” …

Wonderful atmosphere, friendly staff and good food …

Looking forward to my next burger …


As I recall from my experience working in the restaurant business in the 80’s, the result of your inspection depended on how many benjamins you could slip in an envelope and give to the inspector. If not, no matter how immaculate your kitchen was, they’d find something wrong with it.

Thankfully, of course, corruption no longer exists in this wonderful city.


Although no longer living there, Woodside will always be my home and Donovan’s is one of the last original Woodside establishments left. That being said, having eaten there for years, drank there for years, and everything in between, I always noticed that the kitchen area was seemingly dirty. It’s one of those things were when you went to the bathroom you would pass by the kitchen area and it looked outdated, in need of major tlc, and it always made you think, “damn, that looks grimy.” However, I am sure they will do what they have to do to bring it up to code and I would never think twice about ordering a bacon cheeseburger, medium well, with a couple of beers to go with it; it’s simply that great!


Wonderful news! Can’t wait to be back in there when back from Florida.
Seems to me according to various articles that they were targeted. Shame shame shame. I am sure there are other ways for the city to find sources of revenues. Great to hear you are back up and running. Woodside relies on you!

marie elisabethw

Its the citys fault that you have a filthy roach infested establishment……oh!! poor you…boo hoooo.


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