254 Front Street (between Peck Slip and Dover Street).
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-
Midnight; Sunday, Noon-7 p.m. (212) 964-3537.

Beer, fried fish and friends at Jeremy’s

By Sean Patrick Fitzell

In the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, just a few blocks north of the South Street Seaport, sits one of the most unique taverns in New York City: Jeremy’s Ale House.

Villager photographs by Brett C Vermilyea
To get there, stroll the bluish-gray paving stones along Front Street until you get to number 254 at the corner of Dover Street. Jeremy’s is on the left as you face the bridge. The one-and-a-half story red brick building doesn’t look like a bar—it looks like the old garage it once was. But since opening in 1974, it has earned a reputation as a laid-back joint where you can grab a beer, eat some food, watch a game, and enjoy a welcome antidote to the flashy tourist-filled bars and restaurants nearby.

Inside the white double doors, the unfinished concrete walls and cracked floor signal the down-to-earth vibe of the tavern. So do the bras and neckties that hang from the ceiling and walls. Regulars donate them for fun or to commemorate important occasions, like weddings, new jobs, or retirements. The faux-wood paneling gives the room the look of a half-finished basement rec room… but oh well.

Other decorations reflect the different crowds the bar attracts. A stuffed blue marlin with an “arm” in its mouth and the half-dozen, foam life-savers that hang from the ceiling represent the fishmongers who frequent Jeremy’s morning happy hour (yes, morning) after finishing their shifts at the Fulton Street fish market.

Fire department memorabilia including station t-shirts, plaques, and photos adorns many of the walls, thanks to the firemen—many of whom are regulars at Jeremy’s. You’ll see somber memorials saluting friends of the bar lost during the September 11 terrorist attacks. Nailed above the main entrance is a small black and white sign that reads, “Jeremy’s Safe House 9/11/01.” And one wall holds a painted mural with the words “They May Break our Spirit but Never our Resolve” written in a yellow ribbon beneath a faint gray portrait of the Twin Towers. These reminders do not subdue the otherwise cheerful atmosphere of the room.

Joining the fishmongers and firemen at Jeremy’s are Wall Street brokers, city government workers, recent college grads, and Lower Manhattan locals. The diversity of the crowd is more than you might expect considering New Yorker’s strict sense of tribalism. The groups don’t interact much, but the vibe remains friendly and everyone seems to feel at home.

On a recent visit, a woman left her pocket book on one of the half-dozen tables while she went and got a beer (as there is no table service in Jeremy’s). When she returned, a woman at another table said to her, “I couldn’t believe you left your bag there. But then I remembered we’re at Jeremy’s. If anyone tried to take it, someone would’ve gotten up and said something.”

Undoubtedly, part of the warm atmosphere comes from the steady flow of beer. Jeremy’s has 21 varieties on tap—served in no-frills two-pint Styrofoam cups—ranging in price from $4 to $7. “Those in training,” as the menu says, “can order a one-pint plastic cup for $2.75 to $4.75.” The selection includes high-end imports like Murphy’s Stout, domestic microbrews like Saranac, and domestic macrobrew favorites like Bud and Coors Light. Jeremy’s also offers a full bar, in case beer is not your thing.

Jeremy’s menu also adds to the homey feeling of the bar, where the odor of fish fights with the aroma of the deep fryer. Given the proximity of the Fulton Fish Market, the house special is seafood—shrimp, calamari, and tuna steak—and most of it fried. Prices range from $5.95 to $6.95, but a dozen oysters on the shell go for $9.50 and combo platters for $16. The decadent house specialty is, “Jeremy’s Special Chips”—homemade, thin-cut potato chips served warm. Other pub grub like burgers, dogs, and heroes are also available.

After you’ve gotten your frosty beverage and snacks of choice, grab a seat. If the weather is warm, you can sit outside in the fenced-off seating area with a view of the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge. With the recently enacted indoor smoking ban, this area is fast becoming a smoker’s lounge.

If you crave sports, you can watch whatever game is on. And with three large-screen and four regular televisions, you can see from anywhere in the bar. If you’d rather participate than watch, computer trivia and mini-basketball games are available. Either way, sports are central and likely to draw reactions from patrons.

“Tag up! I would’ve tagged,” shouted a man in a white-hooded sweatshirt during the Yankees’ game.

“You?” his friend mocked, “You weren’t even on third base.” As the bartender walked by, he chimed in with, “You wouldn’t have gotten half-way there.”

Such banter is typical during a game and makes you feel like you are watching in your living room with a group of friends. It meshes perfectly with Jeremy’s motto, which is summed up on a sign over the bar, “If it ain’t fun. It ain’t worth it.”

A trip to Jeremy’s is definitely worth it.


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