Park Slope Dive Bar O’Connor’s to Expand: Is That a Bad Thing?

02/23/2011 1:09 PM |

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I was a quasi-regular at O’Connor’s until 2008, when Mike Maher bought it from the O’Connor family and let go of some of the beloved bartenders. In the intervening years, Maher has, apparently, been quietly fixing the bar up, in preparation for an enormous expansion: soon, Maher will unveil a bar three times its old size, the blog Here’s Park Slope reports, including “a huge back room, a kitchen, and a second floor with an outdoor beer garden.”

In the back room Maher is building a stage, and he hopes to feature live music. Wait—O’Connor’s Backroom, featuring live bands? Sounds like Maher is building the new Freddy’s. But is he?

The nearby and much beloved Freddy’s, of course, was shuttered last spring because it was in the footprint of Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development. (It has since re-opened in South Slope.) O’Connor’s, on the other hand, has the good fortune of being just outside that footprint, in an excellent position to cash-in on proximity to a new basketball stadium.

According to the blog interview, though, “Maher claims that the rising Barclays Center didn’t affect his decision to expand.” But as Norman Oder notes on his Atlantic Yards Report blog, the expansion “can’t not be influenced by the building just a few blocks north.”

Maher tells Here’s Park Slope:

We’re modernizing the room, but a priority is to keep the old look…We’ll be saving the bar and the booths and as much of the room as we can, but the seats will be replaced, because they’re falling apart. If we want to serve food, we have to bring it up to code.

That makes sense: O’Connor’s could use new stools and booths. But does Maher’s threefold expansion spell that he’s up to something more than making the place look nice? Maher claims he is not building an “arena bar,” but I remain skeptical: will this new O’Connor’s be connected to its community, like the old Freddy’s or even (to a lesser extent) the old O’Connor’s? Or will it be a hot spot to grab a bottle of Bud and a plate of wings after a Nets game? God help us if it’s the latter, blech.

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One Comment

  • I was a quasi-regular in the late 90s when Elliot Smith lived nearby and wrote XO there. They might as well expand it, the neighborhood around is has changed (and is changing) so much that I don’t think it could stay a charming dive anyway.