Responding to a sandwich board on the sidewalk that said "Sam's last night. Come in and have one last beer," a group of stage workers gathered a few deep at the bar of the modest eatery, whose arches of exposed brick, Christmas lights and nightly piano music made it a cozy place to gather after a performance. Sam's is the fourth low-slung, old-time theatre mecca to shutter in the West 40s in the past year. JR's, on the south side of W. 46th Street near Eighth Avenue, ceased operations in July 2005. Its neighbor across the street, McHale's, ended a 50-year run in the same location in January of this year. And Barrymore's, Sam's next-door neighbor, served its last drink soon after.
The closure of Sam's and Barrymore's, as well as that of a storefront that lies between them, has lent the northwestern half of the block a boarded-up, depressed attitude that sits in stark contrast with the rest of the strip, which boasts several theatres and is one of the most vibrant sections of the Broadway district. A sign on what was once Barrymore's bears the forlorn message: "Closed forever. Thanks to all."
No plans for the spaces occupied by JR's, Sam's, and Barrymore's have been announced, but it is expected that a high-rise hotel will take their place.