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Entries in Bars (157)

Friday
Mar212014

Loki Lounge Officially on the Market

It's been a couple months since word got around that the owners of Loki Lounge, the bar that's held down the corner of 5th Avenue and 2nd Street since 1999, were planning on seriously downsizing due to a rent increase. When I spoke with a bartender a couple weeks ago he told me that the plan was to sell off the portion of the space that's currently the bar area but hold onto the back "lounge" area and convert that remaining portion into a new bar, with an entrance on 2nd Street. That all appears to be finally underway, as Park Slope Stoop noticed that the space is currently up for rent on Craigslist.

A rep from the bar confirmed to me that the initial plan to split in half is still in place, and that Benchmark, the adjacent steakhouse with the same owners, will be remaining open as well. The space is on the market for $11,500/ month (the equivalent of 2,300 $5 well drinks), and can be turned over as-is with no key money.

Monday
Mar172014

McMahon's Public House Opens in O'Connor's Space on Fifth

One year and nine months since closing for a renovation, a completely rebuilt O'Connor's bar soft-opened yesterday (the official opening is today), with an entirely new look and a new name: McMahon's Public House.

Owners Mike and Jimmy McMahon, who purchased the classic dive bar (on 5th between Bergen and Dean) a few years ago from the descendants of original owner Dominic O'Connor, decided to rename the bar in honor of their late father, and if you thought that the new bar would bear any resemblance to its beloved predecessor, think again: it's more than tripled in size, is gleaming, has an extensive draft beer selection, and is anything but a dive.

The old bar hadn't had any major upgrades since first opening back in 1931, meaning that while it was a veritable time machine there were no draft lines and a crumbling infrastructure (a back wall collapsed in the earliest days of the renovation). "If it was still the way it was, the roof would have collapsed this winter because of all the snow," Mike told me. "We salvaged as much as we could, but honestly there wasn't much we could do. We tried to save the bar itself but it was worm-eaten."

A handful of decorative touches remain from O'Connor's, including a giant moose's head with a bra still hanging off of it, an old wall clock, and (miraculously) the old phone booth, which has been refurbished and installed in the downstairs room with a working pay phone. A small section of the rear brick wall was also left intact.

Once you make your peace with the fact that the O'Connor's we knew and loved is long-gone, you'll notice that the new bar is one of the biggest in the neighborhood, and is comfortable and nicely appointed. The front room lets in a ton of natural light and has ample seating, and a back dining room seats about 40. There's plenty of dark wood, high ceilings, and charcoal gray walls.

The back room

There's also a second floor, which will open up for private events and when the first floor is at capacity. It boasts a second full bar, ample seating, and a patio. It has a slightly more industrial feel, all black and metallic gray.

There are 12 beers on tap at the moment but Maher plans to install more, with a goal of having about 30 taps in total. Beers average $5-7, and there will also be a daily happy hour. They're planning on opening at 9 am every morning like in the old days, and the kitchen (with a full menu, including homemade corned beef and cabbage) will be up and running in about three weeks.

So raise a glass to O'Connor's; it'll only remain the way it was in our memories. But I think it's been replaced by a shiny new bar that's hard to find major fault with, one that certainly appears to be a very solid watering hole.

So here's one last look at the old bar room:

And the same view, today:

Wednesday
Feb192014

The New O'Connor's Finally Revealed

One year and eight months since it closed, the newest incarnation of beloved classic dive bar O'Connor's, on Fifth between Bergen and Dean, has been revealed. If you were a fan of its old-school throwback scrappiness, avert your eyes:

The new facade has been revealed, and it looks like just about every other standard Irish pub in the city. An improvement over the previous sparse black-panted brick? Sure. Anything special? Not really.

As for the interior, the folks at the Brooklyn Eagle got a look last week (above). All traces of its past have been scrubbed clean, and even the 80 year-old antique bar and back bar have been needlessly banished to the junk heap. The new bar is a plain slab of walnut, with some knee-scraping stone underneath. It's hard to tell, but by the direction of the sunlight it looks like the bar has also been moved to the other side of the room.

There are also "some walls with walnut paneling, others with newly exposed brick, a stone fireplace and leather upholstered banquettes," according to the newspaper, as well as a big room in the back, and a second floor where they'll host "small weddings, First Communion and christening parties." No sign of the antique phone booth owner Mike McMahon removed and promised me he would return.

There's a kitchen, and food including corned beef and cabbage will be on offer. A name change is also in store; when it opens it'll no longer be called O'Connor's, which is probably for the better.

Park Slope needs an Irish pub.... We want a place you can bring your mother, your grandmother, and the kids,” owner Mike McMahon said, without a trace of irony.

RIP

Wednesday
Feb052014

Open for Business: Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue

The first new bar to open on Seventh Avenue north of Ninth Street in years opened late last month between 3rd and 4th Streets, nearly two years since news first broke that a bar was heading for the space and about three years since City Casuals, the clothing shop it's replacing, closed.

The new bar, called Parish, is run by the husband-and-wife duo of Lisanne Mackenzie and her husband Chris (Lisanne is actually the daughter of City Casuals owner Esther Levitt). It's clear that they've put a ton of work into this space, and it's quite attractive. There's a big window up front, revealing a 12-seat bar made from two pieces of Southern black walnut, a spacious back lounge area with a high-tech projector system, and a big back patio that's going to double in size come springtime. All the colors are muted earth tones, and there's more decorative walnut on the ceiling. And as a very nice touch, the bar underside has not only coat hooks, but plugs. There are also two flat-screen TVs above the bar.

You can certainly call it a cocktail lounge, but there's an impressive selection of beer and wine as well. Cocktails use all fresh-squeezed juices and are $11 (which is on the low end these days), and include the Parish Cocktail (Tanqueray, lemon juice, fresh apples, grapes, and mint); Brooklyn on the Bayou (Makers Mark, Hennessy, absinthe, sugar, and bitters); and the Violette Bramble (Beefeater gin, creme de violette, bramble jam, and lemon juice). All well drinks are made with good-quality booze (Tito's vodka, for example), and cost $8. Here's the beer list:

Also quite reasonable; there's also a nice selection of wines by the glass, and several available on tap.

There's a tiny kitchen area just beyond the bar, so any food that comes out of it will probably be quite simple. At the moment there's a nice-looking charcuterie plate that they've been giving away to customers free of charge, and sandwiches are in the works.

It'll open at noon on the weekends and stay open until 2 or 3, and during the week it'll open at 4 and close at 1.There are no current plans for a happy hour.

This bar is about as mature as it gets, but also knows that its audience might also want to drop in to watch a big game. You can stop in and pay $11 for a craft cocktail or you can pay $6 for a Lagunitas IPA from a rotating tap list. You can sit at the bar and watch the Knicks; you can sit in the back or the patio and have a romantic nightcap with a cheese plate and a glass of wine. It's not trying to be all things to all people, it just lets you decide what kind of bar you want it to be. And while it's not exactly cozy, it's classy, welcoming, and unpretentious.

Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215.

Wednesday
Dec182013

O'Connor's Constuction is Actually Progressing; Facade Revealed

In the year and a half since O'Connor's, on Fifth between Bergen and Dean, closed for renovations. The classic dive bar hadn't changed much in its 81 years of existence, which unfortunately worked to its disadvantage: it wasn't nearly up to code, and an attempt to construct a basement resulted in the collapse of the back wall. So owner Mike Maher shut it down, started the renovation, and apparently promptly ran out of money, and the space has seemingly been lying dormant since.

Signs of life are actually happening, however; many thanks to a tipster for sending in the above photo, which looks like the beginning of a reveal of the facade (that sidewalk shed was quite an eyesore). It looks pretty traditional, similar to 200 5th's, with lots of windows and not a trace of the old brick front. 

For fans of the old O'Connor's, it would be best to expect that the new one is going to look completely different from what we were used to.