Eatery Opening in Former Yankee Clipper Space Despite Residents' Concerns

By Julie Shapiro on May 7, 2012 11:03am 

Sam O'Connor, center, owner of The Trading Post, defended his plans at a Community Board 1 meeting May 2, 2012.
Sam O'Connor, center, owner of The Trading Post, defended his plans at a Community Board 1 meeting May 2, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — A new bar and restaurant is opening soon in the former Yankee Clipper space on John Street — despite objections from many of the building's residents.

At a tense Community Board 1 meeting last week, condo owners at 170 John St. confronted the team behind The Trading Post, the new eatery that is now under construction in the landmarked building.

Trading Post owner Sam O'Connor told the residents that his goal is to create a destination restaurant that also serves the community, with upscale furnishings and a dining room quiet enough to hold a conversation.

But residents slammed O'Connor for not notifying them about the plans and said they feared that the sprawling two-level, 10,000-square-foot space could turn into a noisy nightclub, bringing drunken crowds to the quiet block and preventing children from sleeping at night.

"It isn't an upscale restaurant — it's pub food," Eileen McCrohan, who has lived in the building for seven years, said of the preliminary menu submitted with the liquor license application, which features burgers, shrimp risotto and Irish lamb stew. "How do we know it's not going to be a nightclub?"

O'Connor — who also owns Solas, a lounge in the East Village — replied that he has made several changes to the space to show that it is a restaurant, including eliminating one of the three bars and buying small speakers for background music that are less than 6 inches wide. The vibe will be very different from the space's previous incarnation, when it hosted an off-track betting outlet that was packed on race days, O'Connor said.

"It's going to be so quiet in there," said O'Connor, who promised that there would be no DJs or live music. "We're not going to disturb anyone's sleeping."

Still, O'Connor applied to serve alcohol seven days a week until 4 a.m. The residents, on the other hand, wanted the venue shut down by 11 p.m. or midnight.

After a heated discussion at CB1's Financial District Committee May 2, O'Connor agreed to close at 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, a compromise that the committee overwhelmingly supported in an advisory vote. The State Liquor Authority will make the final decision on the license.

Eileen McCrohan, resident of 170 John St., spoke against plans for a new bar and restaurant there.
Eileen McCrohan, resident of 170 John St., spoke against plans for a new bar and restaurant there.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

Michael Ketring, a CB1 member who supported The Trading Post, pointed out that many parts of Lower Manhattan have both residents and late-night restaurants, including Front Street in the Seaport and Stone Street in the Financial District.

"This is what Manhattan is — it's mixed-use," Ketring said. "I applaud these gentlemen for investing in the neighborhood. We need more restaurants."

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