The bar has changed ownership in recent years and suddenly closed for renovations; there is doubt about whether the bar will be the same when it reopens.
Patrons who would like to celebrate the bar’s history, however, will be able to do so on Wednesday, July 11. Freddy’s, a bar with an equally rich history in the area, will be hosting a ceremonial last call and will bring in O’Connor’s bartenders to serve.
“I think we all loved O'Connor's and thought that any good bar deserves a last call,” said Donald O’Finn, a part-owner of Freddy’s who had previously worked at O’Connor’s.
The two bars have had a friendly rivalry for many years, as they have shared a neighborhood, patrons and even a bartender. Freddy’s, which was forced to move to a 5th Avenue location about 1.5 miles away from O’Connor’s to make way for the Barclays Center, will now open its doors to share one night with its former neighbor.
O’Finn depicts the two bars as the best in the neighborhood; institutions since the end of prohibition. He is intimately acquainted with both of the bars as he moved from bartending at O’Connor’s to managing the old Freddy’s location and finally becoming an owner of the new one.
He tells a tale of rivalry and camaraderie between the bars that stretches from a struggle to stay open later than one another to the disappearance of objects in one bar and their reappearance in the other. Freddy’s and O’Connor’s even have a softball tournament each year.
This common bond will bring together patrons of both bars to honor the history and impact of O’Connor’s.
“It was just an old neighborhood tavern, kind of like a community center,” said Thomas Henderson, an O’Connor’s bartender who will be serving drinks at Freddy’s on July 11.
Despite some doubt from others as to whether the bar will be the same when it reopens, Henderson remains optimistic. He says that the new owner, who bought the bar after the passing of long-time owner Patrick O’Connor, intends to keep as much of the atmosphere as he can as he renovates. Henderson also acknowledged that the bar showed its 80 years in many ways and could stand some fixing.
Either way, it seems that next week’s “last call” will continue the long tradition of neighborly friendship between the two bars.
“[O’Connor’s] is part of my history, part of the bar’s history and part of the neighborhood’s history,” O’Finn said. “Offering up a last call for O’Connor’s was the least that we could do.”