Onieals Pub on Grand Street Seized by the Taxman Last Night
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We got a tip this morning that Onieals on Grand Street is down for the count. It would appear that the taxman paid a visit to the twenty-year-old establishment last night. The all-too-familiar orange sticker of doom was slapped onto the windows, letting everyone know that the establishment was “seized.”
This closure is most likely temporary, though. Onieals will probably return to the fold once the score is settled with Uncle Sam.
Onieals has been operating at 174 Grand Street since 1995. More than 100 years before they arrived, however, this spot was once upon a time home to Callahan’s. According to popular lore, a tunnel was bored to connect the bar with Police HQ, thereby creating easy passage for the Boys in Blue to enjoy a drink during the trying days of Prohibition.
Forgotten-NY touched upon this basement history, and noted that “ONieals (the official spelling deprives it of two apostrophes) was established as Callahan’s around 1880.” The tunnel, while providing undetected access for cop drinking, is now part of the wine cellar. An upstairs brothel held court at one point, and the joint was run as a speakeasy during the dry years. The NYPD headquarters was eventually retired in 1973, leaving the property in vacancy for the next decade.
More context, from the ONieals website:
Set in a neighborhood that for more than a hundred years was the knife’s edge of wealth, corruption, poverty and crime – Onieals Soho is a distinctive blend of yesterday and today’s modern sophistication. Onieals is located directly opposite the old Police Headquarters that held legendary criminals from 1909 – 1973. The Onieals building operated as a center for pleasurable crimes in such close proximity. Its former occupants include a brothel, a speakeasy, and a gambling parlor. In the early part of the 20th century, the system was so corrupt that a tunnel was built underground to connect the two buildings so that uniformed NYPD officers and officials could step across the street for some cheer undetected. The tunnel, which ended up coming in very handy during Prohibition, is still visible in Onieals and is used today as the wine cellar. In 1987, the headquarters was sold, turned into luxury residential condos and the tunnel was filled. These luxury condos, commissioned as an NYC landmark, housed some well-known names including Steffi Graf, Winona Ryder and Christi Turlington.