I knew changes were afoot for O'Connor's, the wonderful old dive bar on Fifth Avenue at the edges of Park Slope. The last time I was there I heard the regulars grumbling about how the new owner was going to "improve" the place and make it more acceptable to the kind of people who like to rent bars for parties and receptions and such.
But I had no idea how devastating the changes would be. How, after they were done, O'Connor's wouldn't be O'Connor's any more, but something completely different and far blander.
The blog Here's Park Slope talked to owner Mike Maher, who bought the 80-year-old bar three years ago. He said the beautiful old bar will be expanded to at least three times' its original size (goodbye coziness!), with the addition of a huge back room, a kitchen serving the usual Irish far like fish and chips, burgers and such, and a second floor with an outdoor beer garden. There will also be a stage for live music (goodbye twilight-like, dive-bar silence).
"We're modernizing the room, but a priority is to keep the old look," Mayer told the blog. "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." He added, "That O'Connor's brand, the O'Connor's feeling, that's not going anywhere."
I'm doubtful. It sounds like O'Connor's is just going to become another run-of-the-mill Irish pub. Same kind of food, same "live music" program, same upstairs space for large parties, same, same, same. I supposed the great old bathrooms with be cleaned up, and the wooden telephone booth ripped out. I loved that O'Connor's was just a bar, didn't have food besides those little bags of chips you could buy. I loved that it only had a jukebox, and a good one, too. I loved that it wasn't party central, but more an insulated retreat from the harsh world.
This City has declared war on the dive bar.