Just about everyone in Maspeth remembers when O’Neill’s restaurant and bar was reduced to ashes after a grease fire in 2011.
It was a devastating moment for the community, as the popular bar has been a staple in the neighborhood since 1933.
After extinguishing the blaze, local firefighters found within the rubble, the American flag that had flown over the watering hole. They held on to it for more than two years and encased it in a plaque that was presented to the owners of O’Neill’s during the bar’s grand reopening on Friday.
“It’s nice that we are able to give a little something back to them,” said Captain Joe Gandiello of FDNY Rescue 4. “This place has been here for forever it seems and it’s just a nice touch. It’s all we can do.”
During the summer the owners were hinting at a comeback. They eventually had a soft opening for the bar a few weeks ago and delayed the full ceremony for September 27. But even during the soft opening, the bar was packed.
“I’m not only happy for myself, I’m happy for the community, because evidently they have been waiting for us to open,” said owner George O’Neill. “The night we opened, when we opened the door you couldn’t get in here.”
Representatives from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Congressmember Joe Crowley’s offices gave proclamations to the bar owners.
Just like it was before it was closed, the bar was bustling with so many local customers during its grand opening it was hard to walk around. Most came to the eatery because it was their favorite spot and to see old friends.
“It’s been gone for a long time,” said Tommy Young, a resident of Middle Village. “A lot of people used to get together here so I got to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Except for the fact that all the furniture and equipment is new, nothing has changed at O’Neill’s. There is still an area for fine dining, but also booths with mini TV screens for sports fans to watch what they want while they eat and of course the main bar in the center of the restaurant that anchors the bistro. The menu hasn’t change much either. There are still steaks, the popular Buffalo wings and brick-oven pizza.
There are more than 45 flat screen televisions around the bar and the owners have added a catering room that can hold up to 200 people. They’ve also added a sprinkler system in the basement.
“Everything is pretty much brand new,” said manager Danny Pyle. “We’re thrilled to be able to serve the neighborhood. And they seem to feel the same way we do.”
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