A feud so bitter that a brother claims he doesn’t know his sister

for The Brooklyn Paper

It’s a feud so overcaffeinated that a brother now claims that he’s never even met his sister!

The sour sibling spat that split the ownership team of Cafe Regular in Park Slope has boiled over once again, now that Martin O’Connell has opened Cafe Martin — a new joint on Fifth Avenue that’s only six blocks away from the original coffee bar that his sister, Anne, still runs.

“I don’t want to comment about that,” said Martin O’Connell, when asked about his sister’s cafe. “I wouldn’t want to cause consternation for someone I don’t know.”

Someone he doesn’t know?

For years, Martin O’Connell was the popular public face of Café Regular, which is located on 11st Street near Fifth Avenue, known mostly for his wry humor and “life-changing” cappuccino.

But last fall, he and his sister feuded over whether modernizing with wireless Internet and an electric cash register would sacrifice the old-school Parisian authenticity of the café.

One rumor suggested even suggested that the spat occurred after Anne demanded that the baristas wear uniforms!

The tension between the two became so heated that now Martin flatly denies any former association with Café Regular.

“No, I don’t know them at all,” said Martin of his former abode, while he served up customers at his new café on Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street. “I don’t know anyone who worked there.”

Martin’s new café, nestled into the cozy 250-square-foot space that previously held the Pink Pussycat sex toy shop, the Irishman has brought the relaxed atmosphere of a top-notch European café to a bustling Brooklyn street.

“There was a need for a good café in this neighborhood,” said Martin, who owns the new place with his brother Richard. “[Café Martin] is extremely different from other places, much smaller, more intimate. If you woke up one morning in Naples and went to the corner, this is what you would find.”

His former Cafe Regular customers agree.

“I noticed that one day he was gone [from Café Regular], and I’m excited that he’s back, because he makes amazing coffee,” said 11th Street resident Jada Shapiro, who made the trek to the new place, though admitted that she’ll remain a Café Regular regular due to its proximity to her home. “I’ll probably stop in here often. I really enjoy his café and vibe.”

The folks at Café Regular, who do not wear uniforms, by the way, hope to put the bitterness behind them (and not just in their coffee).

“Café Regular is just thrilled that the brothers are making a go of it on their own. We wish them a world of good luck. They truly deserve it,” said the store’s manager, Angela de Castro via e-mail.

Café Regular [318 11th Street at Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 768-4170]; Café Martin [355 Fifth Avenue at Fifth Street in Park Slope].

Reader Feedback

Mr. X from Borerum Hill says:
I know all of siblings involved here & what I have to say is, there is certainly another side, & a LOT more to this saga than your article covered. I'll leave it at that.
June 18, 2010, 4:05 pm
Boone from Park Slope says:
Great news! I stopped going to Regular as soon as Martin left. I don't care whose fault the fight is - Martin makes the better coffee and wry comments.
June 24, 2010, 6:42 am

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