Voices from Russia

Monday, 1 July 2013

1 July 2013… A Local Landmark Closes… One of the Last Old School “Workin’ Man’s Taverns” Bites the Dust

beer and kapusta


Last Straw Brings Last Call at South End Tavern in Troy

Marty Burke expected property taxes on his South End Tavern to rise after a citywide reassessment. However, he was stunned when his bill nearly quadrupled, to 15,000 USD a year from 4,000 USD. Calling it the last straw, he decided two weeks ago to close the tavern and restaurant at the end of this month, just one year short of its 80th anniversary. He made the decision public this week. Burke, 62, will retire, and he hopes selling the building would help increase the savings he’s set aside.

The South End Tavern is on the west side of Burden Avenue just above the Menands Bridge. It still displays a “Ladies Entrance” sign over the door to the dining room, although women have been welcome in the bar since at least the early 1970s. He’s the third generation of Burkes to operate the business. His grandfather opened it in 1934 at the end of Prohibition, and his father ran it from 1956 until he died in 1998. All three shared the Marty Burke name.

When the South End Tavern opened, the nation was in the midst of the Depression, but Troy was an industrial powerhouse, with steel mills and a busy rail line along the South Troy waterfront. Millworkers would stop in for sandwiches and beer. Modest prices kept it popular with the locals even after the mills shut. Nevertheless, Burke said that expenses rose faster than menu prices, squeezing profits. On Friday, Burke said, ”The aggravation I was getting with trying to run a business wasn’t worth the compensation I was receiving”. The liquor licence expires this year and it’d cost 2,000 USD to renew. Moreover, with summer a slow season, the time to close seemed right.

The South End Tavern employs six full-time workers and 10 or 12 part-timers; Burke said that, so far, none expressed an interest in taking over the operation. His two sons pursued other careers, although one helps part-time. On 30 June, he’s planning a “last call” party. That’s the same day another Troy restaurant, Irish Mist, also plans a farewell party. That owner, too, blamed a jump in property taxes for the decision to close, although he plans to open elsewhere in the region. Burke’s last call will occur on a Sunday, unusual in itself. He said, “We’re normally not open on Sunday”.

14 June 2013

Eric Anderson

Albany (NY) Times Union


Editor’s Note:

Rightwing vultures such as Wet Willy Romney destroyed the working-class neighbourhoods that anchored local gathering places as the South End (everyone knew it as “Burkie’s”). They sent the jobs to the South or to China… then, they have the gall to talk about “family values“. That’s why you can’t believe rightwing propagandists such as Rod Dreher. He supports those who destroyed solid communities for the sake of filthy lucre. They call such economic vandalism “conservatism”… I think NOT…



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