Meet Me at McAnn’s

A bar in a bus station whose name can double as your plans for the evening.

There are obvious conveniences (and dangers) to any bar in a bus station. When the lines to your bus are too long, you pop in for a pint (or two or five). If your day has taken hold of the back of your neck and won’t let go, you pop in for a pint (or two or five). If what you have at home is not worth rushing to, you pop in … well, you get the idea.

Meet Me At McAnn's

I’ve popped into Meet Me at McAnn’s (Port Authority Bus Terminal 625 8th Ave, 2nd Floor) — the pub with the name that doubles as an invitation — for the all of the above reasons and many more more. McAnn’s is a true example of an oasis. A pub in the center of mass transit hell where strangers to become friends.

Even if it’s just while you wait for your bus.

I’ve been here for karaoke. A solid tradition on Thursday for a bunch of years now. I never sing, but it was no less entertaining for a curious observer.

Some nights, I’ll just sit here waiting for New Jersey to reopen from some clog of buses in the Lincoln Tunnel. One of my favorite encounters was a few weeks ago. It was raining. As we all know, NJ Transit buses are made of paper mâché. So there was no movement out of the terminal. I sat reading a manuscript of my buddy Nelson Pla‘s upcoming book of haiku. I sipped my pint and my whiskey and turned pages.

Meet Me At McAnn's
Long lines at the Port Authority (not unusual)

No one bothered me. It was a perfect way to unwind. It’s one time I’m thankful for AT&Ts poor service. Notorious for zero signal (phone or web) in the Port Authority, there is little chance of being disturbed by the outside world.

Once done reading, I turned to another favorite pastime; people watching (and a touch of eavesdropping). At some, point I found myself pulled into a conversation with a guy named Chris from New Jersey and Martin and Cedric from Kenya. I introduced myself with the very witty quip, “Hey our president was born there too.” They laughed (thank God).

I was fascinated by the fact that, since my new Kenyan friends had now become American citizens, they would get harassed when they traveled back home. The conversation spun around America’s foreign policy, various wartime anecdotes, and racism with me playing the clueless white guy in the group (I do that well).

Fast forward to the following Friday. A stressful day found me here again. All I wanted was a roast beef sandwich and a few pints to shed the week I had from my mind. Who walks in with a guitar? Irish singer/songwriter Allen Gogarty. It was a fantastic coincidence that made my week. I’d later find out that he performs here every other Friday.

The transient nature of a bus-station watering hole is what appeals to me the most here. Meeting random people, sparking random conversation. Of course being a regular at any bar has it’s perks, but the idea that I will — on any given night — meet and chat up some interesting stranger or randomly run into a friend I had not seen in ages is irresistible.

McAnn’s would be a great pub not matter the location. We’re just lucky to have it here, hidden away on the second floor of the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

See Also:
Meet Me at McAnn’s (foursquare)
Port Authority Bus Terminal (retail map)
Nelson Pla
Allen Gogarty

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a comment