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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:

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Reader Comments (16)

Other than walking around taking pictures, it'd be great if the author of this wonderful blog were to cover actual neighborhood news. Two of our proudest local business owners were front and center next to our President as he presented overtime reform. I think that's more important than what the awning at C-Town looks like. What, ultimately, is the point here?

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTed Nelson

To annoy Ted Nelson on a daily basis, clearly.

You're so whiney. How many times have I suggested you go start your own blog if you're such a know-it-all?

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

This is about a brand new bar, not an awning.

Ted Nelson and Jbob should just start their own blog called Here are the Park Slope Trolls.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Went to the bar last night to check it out. It had a pretty good crowd after the Nets game. Had a strip mall feel on the inside. I guess becuase it is such a new renovation could be the reason. Small bathroom for such a large space. Maybe there are other bathrooms I didn't see though. The male staff were all wearing ties. Seems a little too formal for this place but wish them well.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDouggie

Fucking travesty. Bar by numbers.
Pandering inclusion to save a phone booth while destroying the best bar in New York.

And Ted, don't be such a baby. The lamest critique is saying "this thing that you do is bad because it doesn't do what I want you to do." There are plenty of places to read about that which you call for. To petulantly demand it from a site whose focus is obviously different is ridiculous and childish.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJN

Went there on St. Paddy's Day with some friends. Thought the place was beautiful!! Very warm and inviting. Staff was all very friendly. It's about time someplace nice has opened. Lets face it, as quaint as the previous bar was it was falling apart. I will defiantly be back!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkp

It's a beautiful new bar. Happy to have them. While nostalgia is nice too, the old place was a wreck. And not in a good way. Nice to see a place open up where you can tell so much care when into crafting every little detail of the space.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Are you the same Ted Nelson who used to spam River Ave. Blues with endless, annoying, know-it-all comments? Start your own site already.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVLM

" I will defiantly be back!"

Just to spite us who liked O'Connors the way it was?

Falling apart? Yes. But it was still a great bar. Great regulars, bartenders and character. A great dive bar is better than a cookie cutter Irish bar. And harder to find.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJN

I'm an old O'Connors fanatic.

Stopped by McMahons after a Nets game 'bout a week ago. It's an airy space, with good lighting, high ceilings, good ventilation, and an overall pleasant atmosphere. I'll happily go back if I'm right there and need a bar.

But there's no 'there' there, and so I'd never dream of making a point to go there or meet there. I like places with character. It's why I live in NYC, and not in Orlando.

They're going to do well, and I wish them luck. No hard feelings for an almost inevitable development.

Just a shame one of the last real character bars in NYC had to get wiped out in the process.

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDive Bard

I have a lot of great memories from O'Connors (the blackout, Obama election), but it was a relic of a different neighborhood. It was legitimate dive, not one of the ersatz dives you can find all around Brooklyn now. By the end, it was a train wreck, and its closing was inevitable. The new place looks like a Penn Station/MSG bar, which, of course, makes perfect cynical sense.

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdgar Bergen St.

It's right on the doorstep of the Barclays so financially makes perfect sense. But O'Connors was a rare old dive bar worth losing hours in, and this thing in its place is the most cynical strip-mall type bar. Zero character, straight out of a catalog. Considering its location, its completely predictable. Nothing to see here... move along.

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUgh

Stopped in to this bar today, just to look around. I ended up meeting this owner, he was incredibly nice and gave us a tour around the place. Looks like a great local hangout with friends.

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterS.

I am a huge fan of McMahon's Public House. If you spend any time in McMahon's you will clearly see it is definitely not a "cynical strip mall type of cookie cutter Irish Bar." The craftmanship of this bar is quality, with a rich feel to it. Is there something wrong with looking nice anymore? Just because the artistic movement has hit us full speed with reclaimed wood and recycled chairs, it doesn't mean that a more upscale looking establishment with good lighting is "cold, unwelcoming, and typical." I would say McMahon's is unlike a majority of the artsy bars you see opening all over these days, so I think McMahon's is actually more unique than the rest. The staff is extremely friendly and the food is great. AND McMahon's has to be doing something right if a majority of the patrons are off the boat Irish men. And who doesn't have a great time with the Irish lads???

Besides, the bar hasn't been opened for more than 4 months yet. Give the place a chance to setttle in. You just might enjoy yourself and find yourself coming back again. I know I did.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAL

Place looks nicely renovated. This was my grandfather's place that he opened in the 30's. It was definitely a blue collar place where tradesman went to have a beer after working on what are now some of the iconic buildings that now dot NYC. The end of an era,I guess,but that's progress.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRory O'Connor

Dear Mr. McMahin, your rudeness and total unprofessionalism, during a recent interview speaks volumes about your business and how you run it. To be an establishment in a mixed race community, yet politely refuse to hire people of color is abhorrent. If immigration were to walk in and conduct a search on your workforce, how many of your Irish and English workers would have their papers in order? Good riddance to you and your establishment.

October 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterL. Vintrenzo

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