I am in amazement that I haven’t heard about Saint Vitus until just yesterday! Admittedly, I don’t find myself venturing down to Manhattan and Clay very often, but clearly I should be.

Yesterday Grub Street had a first look – with cocktail menu – at the new bar and music venue(!) opening in the next week or so. My favorite part? Those swanky round booths -AWESOME!

Saint Vitus via Grub Street

Saint Vitus
1120 Manhattan Avenue

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  1. Some Saint Vitus history:

    The building dates back to 1931. Back then, North Greenpoint was factories and dockwork. A lot of the workers lived in the neighborhood, a melting pot of Irish, German, Polish, Russian and, later, Hispanic immigrants. Manhattan Ave. had the trolly and electric buses and it was wall-to-wall churches, shops, factories, theaters, even a synagogue.

    What Manhattan Ave. had most was the B&G’s—bar & grills. There were three or four on every block, each serving its ethnic population. They were more than just bars, hosting parties for birthdays, showers, christenings, communions, and weddings in their back rooms and running outings in hired buses to the country for picnics and barbecues. The block between Clay and Box Streets had Paulie’s Bar & Grill on the corner, Joe Tax’s Bar & Grill across from it, and Charlotte’s Bar & Grill down by Box.

    The Saint Vitus space began as a “social club,” a kind of speakeasy, but you had to be a member. It stayed that way even after Prohibition ended. The social clubs served food and drink, provided a social hall and sponsored outings, just like the B&G’s.

    In the 1950’s, after its members moved on, it was sold and became a plumbing school. If you wanted to take the test to become a licensed master plumber in New York City, you trained at this school. Plumbing in those days required heavy equipment, including a hoist and gantry, to work the steel and lead pipe and the social club’s back room was converted to this purpose.

    My father trained at the plumbing school and passed the NYC master plumber’s test in 1979. Then he bought the building and ran the school until he retired in the 90’s.

    Check out the back room of Saint Vitus. True to its history as a social club and plumbing school, designer Matt Maddy and the Saint Vitus crew have preserved its original gantry suspended from its reinforced beam ceiling, weaving it into the Saint Vitus stage and lighting design.

    1. Thx for the great description. There aren`t many bars (at least here in Europe) which such an interesting and versatile history. “The plummet school” would also have been a great name for the place;) Enjoy, hopefully I`ll see it soon too!

  2. That is an awesome description of the history of this street.who would have known? Thank you pete.

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