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Shelley’s, A Long-Time Woodside Watering Hole, Closes


April 7, 2015 By Michael Florio (updated April 8)

A long time Woodside bar closed its doors for good last night.

Shelley’s Bar, which has been located at 58-15 Woodside Ave for nearly 70 years, closed after the landlord wanted to increase the rent as the lease was being renewed, according to bar workers.

UPDATE: However, the landlady adamantly refuted these claims. She said that the rent did not rise and that there was three years remaining on the lease. She said the owner just shut the doors and left.

Kevin Carroll, a long-time customer and on-and-off-again bartender, claimed the rent was just too high for what the business was making.

“It got to a point where the owner was taking money out of his own pocket to stay afloat and you can’t run a business that way,” Carroll added.

The current owner has been running the bar for seven years, Carroll said. Although it changed owners, it has always been home to local residents, police officers and firefighters, he added.

Long-time customers and bartenders were cleaning up the bar Tuesday and enjoying one last laugh.

“Once we close the door today that is it,” Carroll said.

Several customers are going to miss the long-time establishment.

“I’m going to miss the people and the comradery,” said Bryan, a loyal customer, who did not want to give his last name. “You always had a good laugh here.”

He added that he had been coming to the bar since he was 12-years-old, when his dad used to sit him on a stool and the two of them would watch the big games.

Carroll did not know what was replacing the bar when asked.

“It is breaking all of our hearts,” he said. “It’s a hometown establishment and we are all upset.”

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shout out if i was going to reopen shelly, what needs to be done to make everyone happy

the one

Ah too bad for charlie. A truly nice guy who gave it a shot to keep a neighbor place up and running . Put his heart into it. I wish him the best in whatever he decides to do in the future. Heres too you charlie(im raising a glass) thanks for trying. I wish the guys and girl who you employed the best also. God blesd

new woodside

Good maybe a new place open here for us “new woodside people” can come too. The customer crowd from yrs ago never were friendly. Some were ok nice but most were maybe from the 1970s that were on the drugs. I went in there once on a sunday and saw a guy who was so very high on coke that he could not talk right. He had wet nose like water. He be around 60 year old man and he be very high,he grabbed the lady bar lady and shook her very hard and nobody do nothing. She yell at him go home and do more coke. I never go again

the one

Too bad, charlie was a very nice man who tried very hard to make it work. Whatever you do in the future charlie, i hope it works out for you and i wish you nothing but good luck. Your staff too, all nice hard working people.


I disagree completely. I had only been going to the bar for a year and nobody ever gave me any trouble. The crowd was nice and went out of their way to be welcoming.


Skillman bars getting tiresome. Same old same old. Sad to hear about a place closing. I hope it can reopen somehow. PLEASE NOT ANOTHER NAIL SALON!

Luis H.

I just started going to Bar/s regularly I went a few times to the Firewater Inn and Jack’s Ale house but was never a regular. I NOW however am a regular at Jack’s Fire Dept. and love it the McGowan’s are not only wonderful bar owners but we have lived 3 doors from them for the past 14 1/2 years and better people you could not find. I love all the Bartenders especially Courtney and Sandra but whoever is there you are treated with respect and kindness my wife and I always enjoy ourselves when we go. Let me tell you the place is full of characters and I am thoroughly entertained when I go.

Courtney C Not afraid to give my name!!!

I have actually worked at both establishments. Anyt time you walked into shelley’s yes there were the 30 regulars but all new comers were always welcomed! Being a bartender there.. There was never a complaint! It was like woodside’s Cheers… ” everyone knew ur name & if they didnt by the end of the night they did”. Firewater which I am currently back to.. but 10 years or even 20 years ago same thing. Its a well known local bar. Everyone who walks in the door is greated nicely and treated as if they have been going there for years, even if it was there first time there! People will get upset a regulars.. but for what reason? just cuz they know the bar better? Who cares a Bar is a place whenever anyone nomatter who you are can come in and have a great time. It takes two people to be social. nobody in this world is going to beg you to be social with them. Also people really shouldnt be so fast to judge just by walking through a door? Yes, DUH everyone always turns and looks at the door when it opens, weather ur a regular a newbie or even NORM… ur welcome always & we never made anyone feel otherwise unless they were out of line, rude or not welcomed because of past problems. Shelley’s & Firewater currently Jacks Fire Dept are two great bars to go to for some fun. From working in these two places I dont see what you guys are saying or why you feel the need to bash the place after it closes. It’s upsetting and touches alot of soft spot with woodside & sunnyside residents. So if you dont like the place keep quite and stay away from them. There is absolutly NO reason to bash the bar, the people in it , the owners or bash the fact that it got closed. Keep ur opinions to urself and move on. Maybe if you dont like the place thats just ur opinion and you should’nt go back as per ur choice!!

“Didn’t ur parents teacher tell you if you dont got nothing nice to say, keep ur damn mouth shut!

Us who worked there and spent many wonderful times are very heartbroken over the loss of Shelley’s It goes back to my grandparents… 4 generation’s of my family have called that place a home away from home…. so do us all a favor for their sakes. If u didnt like it shut up its gone now no need to bother other people with ur negitivity!!!


I never got any looks going in there. Of course when the door opened people look to see who was coming in but that’s just a natural reaction when you’re in your local. It’s a shame the place is closed I feel bad for the owners, bartenders and people that frequented Shelley’s

Sir William Regal

I remember when I first moved to Sunnyside and walked into the Firewater Inn and was stared at unmercifully and then the same at Jack’s Ale House. You know what the owners there sensed that the nabe was changing and when they opened the new and improved Jack’s Fire Dept. that attitude was gone you either adapt or you go away.


yeah firewater was the same. i could never understand this attitude. if you just want to hang out with your buddies and you don’t want to see anyone you don’t know, why don’t you just drink in someone’s living room. why would you run a business that’s open to the public? and if you insist on running a bar so everyone can get out of the house or whatever…how could you possibly expect to make money? with the same four guys there every day, doing their best to keep anyone new from enjoying the bar. and then it’s supposed to be a big tragedy when you close, because guess what, four guys buying $2 buds all day isn’t a business model.


I went into the Firewater years ago not knowing anybody in the place, I took out my darts and asked if anybody was up for a game. We played for a couple hours, lots of good natured ball busting but never a problem. Maybe it’s just you.


if it was “just me” who didn’t like the place, why did they have to go on a reality tv show and change everything about the place just to stay open, when there are about 20 other bars around here doing just fine


Location, Location, Location. I liked the place but was not going to walk that far off the blvd to go there often. However I never felt unwelcome there or in Shelly”s for that matter.


Fire water, now called Jacks is a sleazy dive bar.The owners and crowd are low class racist bunch. The type of people that are moving to the neighborhood now just won’t support it.


meanwhile you have places like paddy duggan’s that are just as unpretentious and cheap, but with a crew of regulars that’s actually nice and wants to meet you. they don’t want you to walk out after one beer and never come back

John Doe

off topic but Passions (porn store) and that “Sleep Lab” on the corner of Skillman and Queens Boulevard are up for sale. Right next to the new BP gas station. How much you wanna bet someone will try to cram in a high rise next to that small parcel of land?!!? The # 7 is literally 2 feet away!!


i’m not sure about the zoning over there but you can bet they will build as high as they possibly can. i still can’t over that monstrosity that’s gonna go up next to the clock tower


Bar guy just doesn’t get the fact that the building was NEVER for sale after it was sold to the present owners. Lots of people cared about that bar. It was one of the last true vestiges of middle class Woodside. It didn’t matter if you were a blue collar worker or a Wall St. businessman. You were all equal, and if you could take the joke as well as give it back you were always welcome. Pretentiousness was unheard of in Shelley’s. Sure you got the odd look when a “newbie” walked in but if you didn’t come looking for trouble or umbrellas in your drink then you were welcome to sit at the bar and watch the game. It was home to a generation of families. Fathers & sons, mothers & daughters, shared laughs, celebrated milestones and made memories standing at the well worn bar. Fancy was never a word to describe Shelley’s. Hardscrabble described it best. It was a location that didn’t need $10.00 beers or $15.00 fancy cocktails. It was clearly not the place to take a date (although many a romance did develop there). It was a step back in time, maybe it should have changed a little bit but then it wouldn’t have been the Shelley’s we all knew and loved, and are going to miss more than we can say!

Bar guy

The owner was taking money out of his own pocket to stay afloat?????? Every owner is doing that these days in New York city you idiots. That’s the way it is. Even the franchises are. Look at this place, it’s a dump that’s why it closed because NOBODY CARES ABOUT IT OR GOING THERE!!!!
Everyone’s rent is going up. 70 years in business and if you never tried to buy the building you deserve to go out of business.


this is sad for a couple reasons. i’m sad that these folks are losing their bar, everyone needs a place to go to get away from it all. but i’m also sad that they would rather give up their place than change even a little bit. there are dozens of bars in this area that are doing fine, but shelley’s was always the kind of place where the regulars would glare at you when you walked in. sure they would ease up once you proved yourself, and some of them were even nice. but you had to be a certain type of person if you know what i mean. that can’t fly these days. queens is the most diverse area in the entire world and has been for like 15 years now. maybe another bar will open up that’s friendlier and more welcoming and will stay in business for another 70 years.

oh who am i kidding, it’ll be another nail salon…


what i mean to say is, if they want to be like that, that’s fine, doesn’t bother me. they deserve to have their bar the way they want it. but…you can’t expect to make much money that way.


Lots of “dislikes” to that comment but no one has anything to say! hmm….!!


I thought that it was a good idea when Shelly’s began GAY NIGHT………..It was a great GAY BAR

Pat E

You obviously didn’t know the bar, the people or the neighborhood. You sound like another know nothing self righteous know it all with some kind of chip on your shoulder for 70 years from Ed Fowley and the landlord and all the bar owners they all had a long history of supporting Woodside, St. Sebastian’s and the families from the neighborhood. So pretty much you’re just full of crap.


Woodside will soon be indistinguishable from suburbia. Just like the rest of NYC, in this corporate age.


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