Wall Street employees pondering next step After their rough day, some invest time at a bar

October 28, 1997|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW YORK -- Monday is usually a slow night, but yesterday Harry's was full and rowdy. After all, it is the last bar between Wall Street and the mouth of the East River, a stretch of water from which the Coast Guard routinely pulls dead bodies.

"Hey, bartender, can I get a drink?" said WorldCo LLC equities trader Billy Horn, who by 4: 30 p.m. was already motioning for his fourth Heineken of the young evening. He took a sip, and hollered across the mahogany bar, "Anybody want to buy my Porsche?"

There have been more good days than bad on Wall Street since the day, 25 years ago this month, that Harry Poulakakos opened this wood-paneled watering hole in a 19th-century building two blocks from the New York Stock Exchange. But yesterday, when the Dow dropped a one-day record of 554 points, "was the worst I've ever seen it," said Fred Pisculli, a customer.

"The 1987 crash happened on my first month on the job here," said waiter Harold Pappas. "And it already looks like the customers are going to be crazier and drunker than that."

Billy Horn, 34, said he would do his part: "I might be here all night."

No one in Manhattan's financial district wanted to stick around the office late. On Broad Street, a sporting goods company was trying to console brokers with free T-shirts, "but all that did was remind people they were losing their own shirts," said Pisculli, a broker at McLaughlin Piren Vogel.

By 4 p.m., the streets were full of people.

Outside the New York Stock Exchange, television cameramen stalked exiting traders, many of whom shielded their faces, as if this was just another 'perp walk' at the 1st Precinct.

More than 100 people headed to Harry's, where the talk was about the salvation of 401(k)s ("All that money coming into the market, no matter what"), changing careers ("They need really good teachers in the public schools") and history. "Read up on the French Revolution," advised Pisculli. "Today was a perfect example of the mob mentality."

As the liquor flowed, Jack Genovese, who has been coming to Harry's since the beginning and is the only customer permitted his own bar stool (everyone else must stand), held court in the corner.

"I always said I'd do this job until I die, and I think I'll die tonight," said Genovese, a 62-year-old hedge fund manager.

"What, Jack?" said a broker named Mickey Giblin. "You don't want to get in at the opening bell tomorrow."

"You're right," said Genovese. "I'll get in at the open, then die."

"Last week," said Arkis Sarafian, 26, "I helped my girlfriend get set up in a mutual fund."

"Man," replied his drinking buddy, Rob Whitman, "I don't think she's your girlfriend anymore."

Pub Date: 10/28/97

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