Police & Fire

Rising From The Ashes: Hundreds Of Neighbors Raise More Than 30K To Help 773 Lounge Rebuild After Fire

It is not a matter of if 773 Lounge will come back, but when – and after hundreds of people came out to support the watering hole at a fundraiser this past weekend, the owners are much closer to reopening a spot that’s been a beloved part of the neighborhood for decades.

Owners Margaret Cain, Billy Cain, Kathleen Rossitter, and John Bannon let us know that nearly 300 people raised more than $30,000 to help restore the bar, which was devastated by a fire that engulfed the building at 773 Coney Island Avenue in November.

Even a leprechaun attended Saturday's fundraiser. Photo by Mike Sheehan
Even a leprechaun attended Saturday’s fundraiser. Photo by Mike Sheehan.

Saturday night’s fundraiser, which was deemed “A Night in Killarney, an Irish Bar Raising” and held at St. Thomas Aquinas in Flatlands, elicited both laughter and tears from a crowd that vividly recounted a place that has been synonymous with community, with people coming together to celebrate the good – the bridal showers, the weddings, the births – and to support one another when life turns sour – when jobs were lost, when parents died, when flames ripped through the bar, rendering it nearly unrecognizable. (You can see many of those memories played out in the above video, which was played during the fundraiser.)

“We bury the dead and comfort the sorrowful,” Billy said on 773 Lounge’s fundraising page. “We celebrate love and new life. We are the ‘third place,’ a refuge from work and the struggles of home. More than a business, our bar is a calling. A mission. A labor of love.  We operate on a shoestring budget and have more money in tabs than in the bank.”

Lori Behrman kicked off the evening's festivities. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
Lori Behrman kicked off the evening’s festivities. Photo by Mike Sheehan.

The owners let us know that the evening kicked off with Lori Behrman and her classic rock band performing the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed.” The song includes the lyrics, “We all need someone we can lean on,” which “we sure did,” Margaret, Billy, Kathleen, and John wrote to us.

“Blanketed by people from all phases of our lives, we remembered the triumphs and tragedies that defined the 773 Lounge,” the four owners said in an email to us. “We danced and sang way past midnight. We raised a glass to friendship and prayed for a future filled with new memories. We are truly blessed and thankful. We look forward to seeing you soon.”

Neighbors danced into the night at the fundraiser. Photo by Michael Wright.
Neighbors danced into the night at the fundraiser. Photo by Michael Wright.
Everyone wanted a 773 Lounge shirt. Photo by Michael Wright.
Everyone wanted a 773 Lounge shirt. Photo by Michael Wright.

The owners aren’t entirely sure as to exactly when the bar will be back on its feet, and they are currently waiting for the landlord to choose a contractor for the site.

But, that being said, don’t think for a second that 773 Lounge will remain boarded up.

“We will get back in no matter what,” Margaret told us.

One of 773 Lounge's owner, Billy Cain, was one of hundreds of people who celebrated his bar Saturday night. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
One of 773 Lounge’s owner, Billy Cain, was one of hundreds of people who celebrated his bar Saturday night. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
Green, orange and white balloons flooded the fundraiser, which had a theme of "A Night in Killarney." Photo by Michael Wright.
Green, orange and white balloons flooded the fundraiser, which had a theme of “A Night in Killarney.” Photo by Michael Wright.
There's that leprechaun! Photo by Michael Wright.
There’s that leprechaun! Photo by Michael Wright.

The four owners also stressed their gratitude for St. Thomas, where Saturday’s party was held, with Margaret writing that, “773 Lounge is a business built on community. In our time or need, Monsignor Brown and the good people of St. Thomas gave us a chance to rebuild that community. For this we are forever grateful.”

Additionally, she said that Guy and Sheila Defonzo, of  St. Thomas, “are to be commended for their empathy.”

“They provided us a hall to rally our customers, shelter from a storm,” Margaret wrote. “More importantly, they felt our pain and provided a shoulder on which to cry. If that’s how they treat strangers, your parish is certainly in good hands.”

If you weren’t able to attend the fundraiser and are interested in donating to 773, the owners are continuing to raise money to rebuild through their gofundme page.

Many, many thanks to both Michael Wright and Mike Sheehan for photos of Saturday’s festivities, more of which you can see below (and in Mike Sheehan’s photo album here):

Photo by Mike Wright.
Photo by Mike Wright.
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Some of the baskets that were raffled off throughout the evening. Photo by Michael Wright.
Some of the baskets that were raffled off throughout the evening. Photo by Michael Wright.
A bagpipe player got the crowd on its feet. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
A bagpipe player got the crowd on its feet. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
Photo by Michael Wright
Photo by Michael Wright
Even our littlest neighbors had fun at the fundraiser. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
Even our littlest neighbors had fun at the fundraiser. Photo by Mike Sheehan.
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
Photo by Mike Sheehan
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