City officials renamed the corner of East 57th and First Avenue to “Jimmy Neary Way” on Wednesday evening — honoring the late, famous Sutton Place giant, Jimmy Neary.
Neary, who owned and operated his famous namesake restaurant for over 50 years, was honored on what would have been his 92nd birthday. He died in his sleep on Oct. 1, 2021 after celebrating his 91st birthday last Sept. 14.
“He left the restaurant late that night and said, ‘Goodnight and I’ll see ya tomorrow. He passed peacefully the next day, on Oct. 1. He went out the way he came in – on top,” his daughter Una, who now runs the restaurant, told The Post.
The ceremony began at 5 p.m. and was headlined by Mayor Eric Adams, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cardinal Dolan, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Bishop Edmund Whelan, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, City Council Chair of the Irish Caucus Keith Powers and City Councilwoman Julie Menin — who sponsored the resolution allowing for the renaming that passed in June.
Over 300 people attended the ceremony, according to Menin’s office.
Neary first opened “Neary’s” at 358 E 57th street on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1967 and he celebrated his last at the establishment in 2021, marking its 54th year in operation.
“People still come in today and say, ‘God your father, he had this warmth and charm, it didn’t matter if you were from out of town he made you feel like you were part of the family.’ He always ran it like a private club – where everyone was invited,” his daughter Una told The Post.
Neary emigrated to New York City from a tiny town in County Sligo, Ireland called Tubbercurry on Veteran’s Day — Nov. 11, 1954 — at the age of 24.
He worked his entire life — starting as a towel boy at the New York Athletic Club to the owner of the beloved Sutton Place eatery frequented by presidents, mayors, television personalities and sports stars.
Astronaut John Glenn ate at the pub shortly after orbiting the earth in the “early days” of the pub. Soon, other visitors included former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Governors Hugh Carey and George Pataki frequented the bar.
He was a personal friend of Bloomberg and the mayor used to call ahead to have Neary cook his favorite chicken dish.
Neary once flew on a private jet with the mayor to a ceremony in Ireland honoring one of the famous generals of the all-Irish New York brigade — the Fighting 69th.
Bloomberg then surprised Neary and brought him to Tubbercurry – where the locals were more excited to see Neary than the Big Apple mayor.
“He surprised my dad. It was a fleet of SUVs that drove into the village of Tubbercurry! All the shopkeepers left their shops and the town gathered around on one side. They were thrilled to see my father!” said Una.
Bloomberg gave one of the eulogies at Neary’s funeral last fall.
Una said her father was the “embodiment of the American dream.”
He sold over a dozen lambs in Ireland that paid for his passage to the Big Apple. He was then drafted during peacetime in 1956 and drove a tank in Germany.
The Irishman worked days at the Athletic Club — where he later became the first former employee to get a membership — and nights at the famed restaurant P.J. Moriartys on Sixth Avenue.
Neary then signed a lease at 358 E 57th and then bought the building in 1986.
Una said her mother told Neary he “secured his children’s future” by buying the building.
A devout Catholic, Neary went to daily mass in Tenafly, NJ, where he lived the majority of his adult life with his wife Eileen Neary.
He then got some breakfast at the local diner and made his way to Manhattan, where he stayed well past closing time at the restaurant.
Una told The Post her father loved America and always dressed up in a suit and tie — which was usually green — and loved to get the entire bar singing “God Bless America.”
The family asked Manhattan City Councilwoman Julie Menin to sponsor a resolution to rename the street honoring their beloved Irishman.
“Jimmy is an icon for the Irish community. You always felt better walking out, than when you walked in,” Menin told The Post.
She said she’s been going to the eatery for years, and used to bring her late mother and now-homebound father, Robert Jacobs, 86.
Last year, she brought Jacobs to Neary’s for his 85th birthday after he hadn’t been outside his apartment in nearly four years.
Neary was in the pub and welcomed the fellow veteran — which brought tears to his eyes, Menin said.
The restaurant is open every day all year — except on Christmas Day. It was also closed for 14 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.