Bernard Kommel was first listed in the 1892 NYC Directory with the occupation of liquors located at 24 Allen Street and by 1894 he moved to Park Row. He added the Amsterdam Avenue location around 1897 and the 10th Avenue location a year later. The New York State Department of Excise listed Kommel as a certificate holder at these three locations in 1898. By 1900 the Amsterdam Avenue location was no longer listed, so 1898 and possibly 1899 are the only two years he operated at the three locations embossed on the bottle.
The Park Row establishment was called the Billy Goat Saloon of which Kommel was the proprietor. According to a July 27, 1896 story in the New York World the place was not always on the same page with the law.
Policemen Armstrong and Hahn arrested Bernard Kommel, proprietor of the “Billy Goat” saloon at No. 143 Park Row, yesterday for violating the excise law. Two hours later the policemen found 50 men in the place. Then they arrested Kommel’s wife.
By 1905, the business had grown and he listed six locations in the directory: three on 10th Avenue, two on 11th Avenue and one on W 39th Street. The Park Row business was no longer listed.
Kommel passed away sometime before 1909. The 1909 Directory listed his wife Bertha as a widow and there was no mention of any business locations.
Kommel must have been some character. According to various newspaper accounts, he actually kept pet goats at the tavern and more than once they managed to make the newspapers. A December 11, 1895 story that was picked up by more than one newspaper, including the St.Paul Globe and the Quad City Times talked of one goat’s escape from the bar.
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 – A goat was arrested for disturbing the peace in Broadway near Fulton Street by Policeman Franklin and locked up in the Church Street Station. The owner visited the station later and secured the release of the animal. Barney Kommel, the goat’s owner, keeps what is called the “Billy Goat” saloon at No. 141 Park Row. He told the police sergeant that the animal yesterday afternoon got drunk on hot Scotch whiskies to which he was treated by a man from Philadelphia who had been “doing” the Bowery.
A day later a story on the front page of the Allentown Leader clarified the story.
From the New York Evening World. The owner of the Nanny goat which was arrested for disturbing the peace in Broadway near Fulton Street, by Policeman Franklin yesterday afternoon and locked up in the Church Street station house this morning secured the release of the animal. Sergt. Saul said that he believed that he had full power to discharge the goat without sending it to a police court.
Barney Kommel, the goats owner, keeps what is called the “Billy Goat” saloon on Park Row. He told the police sergeant that he had two goats. Yesterday afternoon “Nanny” got drunk on hot Scotch whiskey, to which she was treated by a man from Philadelphia who had been “doing” the Bowery.
“Billy drinks nothing but mixed ale.” said Mr. Kommel. “and Nannie generally fills up on stale beer. If they mix their drinks they are sure to get a jag. Billy knows this and has not been drunk since last New Years Day, but Nanny has been on a spree now for a week, and yesterday she had a touch of the D. T.’s”
Mrs. Murphy, a friend and neighbor of the saloonkeeper was in front of the saloon when Nanny was brought home from the station-house.
“Sure and why should the darlin’ be ashamed? Isn’t it a good woman’s failing’ just as well as a man’s to take a drop too much now and then?” said Mrs. Murphy.
No one contradicted the lady, and she gave the bartender a nickel to straighten out Nanny’s nerves.
Another story, from the same time period and also involving a loose goat, tells of the bar getting a new goat.
Kommel’s New Goat
Butts Two Chinamen and is a Worthy Successor of “Irish Dan”
When “Irish Dan” Barney Kommel’s pet billygoat, and the pride of the Park Row panhandlers, passed away happily, owing to his inordinate fondness for beer in his master’s saloon in Park Row last October, the whole neighborhood went into mourning. Dan was as fine a gentlemen goat as ever butted a hobo or sunk his nose into a foaming schooner.
Without a goat the barroom seemed bare so Kommel imported a kid of tender years from the Brownsville district of Brooklyn to become Dan’s successor. The free lunch and the Park Row wassail was too much for the kid so it too left this vale of tears carrying along all the beer there was left. Then Kommel started out to hustle for a new goat.
The new goat arrived yesterday and all day the arrival duly was celebrated at Kommel’s bar. The new goat was said to have been imported from Ireland, but there are vague rumors that it was captured in the Long Island woods. The billy was hitched to the bock beer sign in front of the place and announcement was made over the bar that he would be christened in the evening and that the festivities would begin at 8 o’clock.
The new goat shied at a Third Avenue trolley car in the morning, broke his hitching and ran all the way to Chatam Square, but was captured and brought back after he had established a record by butting two Chinamen and devouring a pair of pants on a dummy in front of “The Only Original Cohen’s”
Billy was christened in proper style last night. Decorated with two funeral wreaths, a bunch of immortellies brought from a Bowery undertaking shop and a daisy chain he occupied the center of the barroom floor, shaking his head and bleating at all who came to pay him homage. All the thisty rounders in Park Row and the Bowery were at the celebration and once more there is joy and happiness in Kommel’s barroom.
The Park Row addresses no longer exist. They were located on the grounds of what is now a large apartment complex.
The bottle is a mouth blown strap sided flask. Embossed with the three specific addresses, it dates to 1888 or 1889.