NYC Neighborhood Rattled by Crane Collapse John LaGreco, the owner of a bar that was crushed by a giant crane that collapsed on the East Side of Manhattan a week ago, explains what the loss of the bar means for the neighborhood.
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NYC Neighborhood Rattled by Crane Collapse

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NYC Neighborhood Rattled by Crane Collapse

NYC Neighborhood Rattled by Crane Collapse

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SUSAN STAMBERG, host:

In New York, the cleanup continues after that giant crane collapsed last week. Seven people died in that accident, and several buildings were either totaled or partially destroyed. Among the obliterated: the building that housed Fubar, a neighborhood watering hole that was one of Manhattan's better-known dive bars.

The owner, John LeGreco, escaped death by deciding to open his bar later that day so he could watch a Yankees preseason game. Thank goodness, Mr. LaGreco, and thanks for joining us from our studios in New York.

Mr. JOHN LAGRECO (Owner, Fubar): Oh, it's my pleasure, my pleasure.

STAMBERG: So tell us how that neighborhood is dealing with this awful collapse. This is First and Second Avenue and 50th Street on the East side.

Mr. LAGRECO: The neighborhood is rattled. People are rocked by this. There are still people that are displaced. And the neighborhood is still on edge. People walk by. It's like they're staring at this big hole. It's really shook up the neighborhood.

STAMBERG: Yeah. And what about you? How are you coping with this? You've lost your bar.

Mr. LAGRECO: It was really stressful for me. I mean, I almost lost two very close friends: one who works for me, and one who lives upstairs. You know, and they were pulled from the rubble…

STAMBERG: Oh my goodness.

Mr. LAGRECO: …which was a miracle, to say the least. 'Cause the crane kind of went to the left more towards the middle. And the one guy upstairs, he rode the collapse down into the bar.

STAMBERG: That's amazing.

Mr. LAGRECO: A miracle.

STAMBERG: Who were the regulars there at the Fubar? Who would come almost every night and just hang out?

Mr. LAGRECO: Oh, well, we were known as a U.N. bar. The United Nations, the people that worked there, whenever they were done they would come over to Fubar. Some of the younger people would say, oh, it's like my uncle's basement where we were underage and we'd sneak beers in, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LAGRECO: And then some people just literally called it their living room, you know, 'cause a lot of people have studio apartments in the neighborhood 'cause east midtown is so expensive.

STAMBERG: How do you do it? How do you re-create the atmosphere, the sort of Cheers kind of quality of a neighborhood bar…

(Soundbite of laughter)

STAMBERG: …which is clearly what you had?

Mr. LAGRECO: Yeah. I mean, on a personal note I would love to rebuild in the same spot and, you know, bring back something that was so essential. We really opened up to everyone. So if you were 21, you were welcome; if you were 88, you were welcome. You know, and it's, it was, you know, a neighborhood bar, and we did really well. And even when it was slow times during whichever recession, you know, we really felt that home there, you know?

STAMBERG: Yeah. It sounds like a great place. Well, I wish you the best of luck. John LaGreco, owner of Fubar on the east side of Manhattan, joining us from our studios in Manhattan. Best of luck to you, Mr. LaGreco.

Mr. LAGRECO: Thank you so much, Susan.

STAMBERG: This is NPR News.

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