Red Hook’s got a new “buzz” thanks to a legendary — and suddenly controversial — DUMBO restaurateur.
Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe, owner of DUMBO’s River Café, has transformed a pre-Civil War brick building on Van Dyke Street into Liberty Warehouse, a polished wedding and banquet hall, turning the tables on the neighborhood’s gritty reputation.
The expansive space boasts views of the Statue of Liberty, and offers a tasty menu of crabcakes, marinated sea bass and Angus beef.
It’s not cheap — $195 per guest, according to its filings with the State Liquor Authority — but it’s airy, accommodating up to 1,000 people for cocktails and 600 for a sit-down dinner.
“It’s just getting its legs now,” said Greg O’Connell, whose father, the Red Hook developer also named Greg O’Connell, owns the property.
O’Connell The Younger said the space has been open for the past few months, though it just recently sought a liquor license from the state.
“There’s tons of parking here,” he noted. “And it’s a different vibe down here, with different views. Once people come down here, they’ll realize it’s a hidden gem.”
O’Connell predicted the high-end space would quickly differentiate itself from competitors such as Williamsburg’s Giando on the Water, which boasts that it’s the city’s finest waterfront restaurant. A manager at Giando said he’s never heard of Liberty Warehouse.
Red Hook regulars said the catering hall is a step in the right direction.
“Maybe people in Manhattan who didn’t know Red Hook existed, will know now,” said Gino Vitale, a Red Hook developer.
But newcomers may have some problems navigating the peninsula, he cautioned. “It’s not like Red Hook is lit up at night,” Vitale noted. “Red Hook’s not that easy to find.”
City auditors are probing the River Café, after officials claimed the eatery’s Manhattan counterpart was misreporting revenue to avoid paying taxes.
The catering hall/restaurant is years in the making. In 2009, we reported that O’Keeffe was in negotiations to transform the space, which once played host to the MTV show “The Real World.”
O’Keeffe did not return a call.