Mahar's bumped from its Albany location

mahar's exterior

Mahar's -- a longtime favorite of beer enthusiasts in Albany -- is getting bumped from its uptown Albany location. BM&T Managment -- which owns Cafe Madison, The Point, and Junior's all in that same strip -- has bought the building and is planning its own bar there: The Madison Pour House. The sale of the building closed last Friday, as the Times Union reported this week.

Mahar's owner Jim Mahar tells us via email that they were "blindsided" by the sale of the building. That TU article linked above details some of the back-and-forth over the real estate deal.

There appears to have been a significant communication breakdown because Mahar says he and his wife were working under the impression they were headed for a new lease with the building's former owner, along with improvements. But BM&T sent a letter last fall -- dated September 20, 2012 -- to the city of Albany indicating its intent to file for a liquor license for the Mahar's location (letter is post jump). That license is now pending.

"Obviously we are scrambling to see about another location and [see] what the future holds," Mahar tells us.

BM&T's Brian Viglucci told us Tuesday via email that the group was trying to get in touch with Jim Mahar "to see what his intentions are as far as leaving." Once that's settled, he says they'll have a better sense of a timeline for their renovations of the space. The plan for the Madison Pour House is to be a beer-focused bar with food (Mahar's doesn't offer food). BM&T has invested a significant amount of money in the strip at the intersection of Western Ave and Madison Ave over the last decade -- most recently expanding Junior's, a neighborhood pub/restaurant, into an adjacent building.

Many people will be pulling for Mahar's to find a new Albany location (it has another location in Castleton). It pre-dated the beer bar boom in this area and earned fans for its extensive beer list and "world tour" of beer. It's also known for its rather idiosyncratic approach, which doesn't click for everyone. But for many years it was the best place in that immediate neighborhood to have a cozy drink with friends.


AOA obtained this document from the Albany city clerk's office via a FOIL request.

Madison Pour House Intent to File for Liquor License


Earlier on AOA: Casey highlighted some bars around the Capital Region that offer something a little different -- among them: Mahar's.

Find It

Mahar's for now, Madison Pour House planned
1110 Madison Ave
Albany, NY 12208


That stinks. I'm not a regular customer - I don't live in Albany - but Mahar's has been at this location for as long as I can remember (anyone know exactly how long??). I don't like to see a local business displaced.

That's sad! Mahars was one of the few places you could go to have a drink without dozens of meatheads pouring pitchers of beer down their throat. Hopefully they find a new location somewhere nearby

This is a sad development and do hope Mahar's can relocate in Albany else where (we'll take you in the Delaware Ave/DelSo area, where we've fostered a lot of new, great businesses and walkability). Despite the first comment, while this is a local business being displaced, it is being displaced by another local business, so more of a gain then loss if Mahar's can relocate in the City. BM&T has been a great neighbor in the Pine Hills and has done wonderful thinks along Madison Avenue, so I expect this would continue with the acquistion of the building Mahar's was in. Cheers to both in continuing to enrich Albany's eating (and drinking) experiences!!

Just like Rich, I'm very torn on this. This is truly a great place to go if you just want grab a couple of drinks and catch up with a friend without having to shout-over or elbow-joust someone on either side of you. At the same time, BM&T has done a great job to build the neighborhood up and I really look forward to what the Pour House has to offer.

While they're at it, can they buy the building next to Mahar's too?

Oh, and Chipotle, if you're listening, we'd love to have you too.

While I was all set to be enraged, BM&T is a great company that runs some really good businesses. Very saddened by how it is happening and hoping Mahar's can relocate without any negative impacts on their business. DelSo would be a fine choice as long as the neighborhood continues to support it. I wish they could relocate and replace the spot in front of St Peters. Selfishly, Andy's (??) is not my cup of beer but Mahar's definitely is!!

This is a real loss to the neighborhood. I live in the Pine Hills area and it sounds like Jim got the short end of the stick. I'm torn because now I feel like not going to the other BM&T locations. It will be extremely sad to see Mahars go, and I think the idea of replacing Mahars with another beer bar is very disrespectful and underhanded. Mahars would be celebrating their 24th year at the Madison Ave location this February.

As a local resident in the neighborhood, while I am sad to see they will be moving, I do have to say that Mr. Mahar's claim that they've invested in the place must be a matter of perspective as other than replacing some tables and throwing some beer distributor give-aways on the wall I don't see it. Clearly the bathrooms have been a mess for a long time in Mahar's with no effort at improvement. BM&T has substantially improved the block with their upgrades to Juniors and the Point and I will be interested to see what their take on a "neighborhood pub" is. I liked that Mahar's didn't have TVs and Music blasting through the roof so that you had to shout at the person next to you. Hopefully BM&T will keep that in mind in their re-design.

Back in my younger days (the mid 2000s), I spent a lot of time in there growing my list (Hell, my bachelor party was held there). But life got in the way, as it tends to do, and I started going less and less frequently. In the past few years the selection has dropped off quite a bit, due at least in part to import restrictions (if my memory serves), which is a big bummer. That being said, it wasn't nearly as exciting to go in and have half the selection of previous visits, most of which could be gotten at one of the (surprisingly plentiful) area's well-stocked specialty beer stores.

I for one don't mind the attitude of the bartenders. They'd teach you about the beer if you wanted to learn, and make you feel incredibly unwelcome if you just wanted to grab a Bud Light. I once ordered a Genny Cream Ale because I understood that it was on the list more as a joke than anything else.

It's sad the way the whole thing went down. I'll have to make sure to make one last pilgrimage to grab my mug and have a farewell pint.

Dear Mahar's, This seems to be a theme in the comments here, but we do need a nice neighborhood pub in the DELSO (Delaware South neighborhood).

Another vote for Mahar's in the Delaware Area neighborhood.

Not to sound like a broken record, but I'd love to have Mahar's in the DelSo or greater Delaware Ave neighborhood. This would be a wonderful addition to all the great businesses that have opened up or existed (bakery, cheese shop, theater, dog grooming, several ethnic and classic American restaurants, library, I can go on). I love the walkability of this neighborhood, and would love a proper brew house to the mix. Would it be too much to ask that they incorporate a biergarten of sorts to it, as well :)

wherever they go, I will follow.

I second DaveinAlbany's comment. If the money was invested, it wasn't visible. Which makes me wonder why a tenant would put money into a building they don't own. The investment claim is questionable.

Also, Mahar's has been a tenant for a long time--perhaps they couldn't afford the asking price...we shouldn't shun a group of businesses that add to the neighborhood (and jobs) because Mahar's couldn't get their act together and buy the building.

My hope is that Mahar's relocates and gets back to what they were always about (as I understand, their beer selection hasn't been as stellar as it once was in recent years). I also hope that the Madison Pour House distinguishes itself aesthetically from The Point and Juniors (aka The Point II, aka "My Second Point").

DelSo, DelSo, DelSo!

If you want to not provide customer service and actually choose to treat people poorly, you better provide something unique that people can't get elsewhere.

Mahar's did not. And it caught up with them. I shudder to think how much money I've spent on beer in Albany and yet I never gave them a dime because of their reputation. I'm a beer snob, too. But if I'm giving you my money you better appreciate it.

Apparently they didn't. And thus didn't make enough money to be able to buy that building. So it goes. At least they have a reason to be grumpy now.

Can someone tell me if their other - further out - location in Castleton is still open?

Awww, too bad! I celebrated my 21st birthday @ Mahar's. My dad came in from out of town for my "first" drink. We had Dirty Hoes (Hoegaarden + Framboise).

If you cannot live without Mahar's, everyone here seems to be forgetting about their location in Castleton.

This is rather sad, because as far as I know, Mahar's just put a lot of money, time, and effort into renovating/replacing/repairing (not really sure which) their entire tap system. I'm sure it would have been nice to get a head's up before doing all that work.

Personally, I'd like to see them move in to Crestwood Plaza...

There have been zero improvements to Mahar's in the past five years. And I'm tired of hearing "testimony" of people who do not frequent Mahar's of how great the place is. The only change to the bar in he last several years has been the removal of all taps on the front bar. That is far from an improvement...

The place has been in decline for almost a decade. It is indicative of an establishment in a building not owned by the proprietor. Who among us would invest money in a business in which we have no long term lease?

Jim has known for months that the building was gong to be sold. Most of us regulars have known for just as long - if not longer. Anything you read saying that this was a surprise is just false.

I'm not really sure why Mahar's gets such a bad rep. You think they don't appreciate your money? I seem to remember many customer appreciation nights on Fridays, as well as potlucks on Saturdays, as well as a "world beer tour" that gave you a t-shirt, and mug as you progressed.

As far as customer service goes, at least their bartenders have 1) personality, and 2) some knowledge about beer. I would go to the City Beer Hall A LOT more if they hired bartenders who actually knew what an IPA was. Hmmm, cute girls serving beer while the game blares on the TV above and you're standing elbow to elbow with frat guys? Geez, that's so unique to Albany.

The best part about Mahar's, and what I will sorely miss is the feeling of being a regular at a place that was never too crowded, never had a game on, never offered buckets of Bud Light, and always provided a great place to sit at a table with friends, drink a quality beer and actually be able to hear your conversation.

Location (and lack of parking) was always my biggest impediment to going here more often - would love to visit them in a new Albany location. Agreed, it is/was the best place to meet up with a buddy if you actually want to hear yourselves talk while having a quality brew.

This is just depressing. I can tell you I definitely won't drink at whatever they put in its place. Just a crying shame.

I agree with the above comment by Chris. I am a regular at Mahar's. I will miss the family. I can be sure there will be no pot luck Saturday gatherings at the new place. I love the ability to feel comfortable to have great conversations with people of all ages, professions, interests. The staff are incredibly knowledgable and a cast of characters. I love that the regulars are also knowledgable and willing to help out new people to discover their style of beer. I went from hating beer to being a beer snob and I am always learning. I have been to the Castleton location and it's just not the same. Plus I like that it is so close to home. I really hope the new place keeps the core of the bar the same. I am afraid it will just become part of the Madison ave monopoly and there won't be much of a difference from all the other bars on the block.

I am so sorry to hear this news! A very similar thing happened with my took a long time to get on the other side of it. I will never rent a building for my buisness again. Who knows what was really said to the owner.....I know that i was lied to and then pushed out....lost a lot of money but the worst was that buisness was successful and it was my heart. I wish the owner the best and i like to think something better will be in the future for you. When you have a good buisness and a good location people can be ruthless to get what you worked so hard for. :(

Wow. This is just a shame. I have only been going to Mahar's for a little under a year, but it has quickly become my favorite place to grab a few beers. I always felt more like I was hanging out at a friends house than being at a bar.

The Delaware South neighborhood (DelSo on Google maps) is an ideal up and coming area for any business.

I'm really bummed that Mahar's has to move. It's one of the few bars around here I really like.

There may have been a breakdown in communication. But really - did the conversation go something like this?

BM&T Management: "Hey, Jim Mahar; we have important news that will affect the very existence of your business and livelihood. Would you like to hear it?"

Jim Mahar "Nah. Whatevs."

It seems unlikely to me.

The crowd that likes Mahar's probably includes the same group of people that BM&T's new place would be trying to attract. Is it a great idea to start off like this? I can only speak for myself, but I am not enthusiastic about visiting the replacement.

I called this years ago. Remember Mahar's old website? It starts off like this "DO WE KNOW YOU?


So they build another website and it looks like it went up 2/29/12. Last update was 3/15/12. Great.

Way to stay in touch with people.

I give places multiple chances. I went to Mahar's 4 or 5 times. As mentioned above, I'm also a beer snob. But don't treat me like sh*t when I ask something about a beer. For years, this place had no competition. Within the last 5 to 10 years, bars all around Albany sprung up offering a much better selection of craft beers. What did Mahar's do? Nothing. Great job!

@Chris C.: Judging by the way their servers consistently ignored would-be customers, I can imagine that conversation going exactly as you have it.

We'd love to have Mahar's locate on Delaware Ave.
Get in touch.

If Mahar's locates anywhere in Albany, I will follow. BMT has seen the last of my money (3000+ on the Mahar's tour, so that would have been considerable.)

I agree with the notion that it's incredibly rude to open a business trying to attract the same crowd in the space. I hardly like beer but love the atmosphere and would always enjoy a pint of cider with friends. I was never ridiculed for it. Mark one more Albany business that won't get a dime of my money for making underhanded business moves.

And for everyone saying that the no-idiots attitude was why the business failed? The business didn't fail. And there is certainly room for such a model, as Dick's Last Resort seems to enjoy.

We have a small pub in Albany (.8 miles from Mahars) at 332 South Allen Street called the Allen Street Pub. There has been a bar at that location for 80 years. Our place is quiet and we offer some great beers and always have a beer engine pumping out cask conditioned ales. We are, in the words of Jim Mahar himself, the "acceptible alternative". Starting early to mid February we will have finished construction of a new cooler and will be offering 24 draught choices and 3 casks. We are already the only bar in Albany that ALWAYS has cask ale 7 days a week. Come check us out, we'd love to meet you.

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