Donovan’s reborn in Bayside

For months, lovers of pub food and free parking have been lamenting the absence of Donovan’s on 41st Avenue in Bayside. They can now take heart, or at least a signature burger and a beer, at the new Donovan’s Grill and Tavern.
After a week’s “shakedown cruise” the kinks (and deliveries) are all worked out, according to co-owner Martin Picone. “We aren’t planning to have a ‘Grand Opening’ as such because we feel that word-of-mouth is going to spread pretty fast.”
It seems that Picone’s expectations were fulfilled. Though the new Donovan’s opened without fanfare on Monday, November 5, by that Friday, the capacious main room was jam packed.
“We’ve raised the bar for Bayside restaurants,” said bartender Ritchie, without a trace of irony. The bar itself was no higher, but those who expected mere “renovations” to the old Donovan’s were in for a surprise.
There has been a near-total reconstruction at the 214-16 41st Avenue location. The former Bayside resident Picone and his partner, Ireland-born Mike Guinnane, raised the ceiling height to some fifteen feet, with classic “tin ceiling” panels and extensive dark wood paneling throughout.
The vaulted ceiling, paneling, wine-racks and numerous framed photos that adorn the walls help to create an atmosphere of upscale elegance in the main room, which is at once cavernous and still intimate.
We want to appeal to the restaurant-savvy population of (northeast) Queens,” Picone said, adding “they want casual dining in a dignified setting.”
With the reconstruction, Picone and Guinnane expanded the “back room” and re-opened the long-closed patio area, which is now separated from a 20-person side room with its own bar, by sliding glass doors.
This area is several steps up from the similarly high-ceilinged rear dining area, which is separated from the main room by a wide hallway, where patrons will find the state-of-the-art restrooms, featuring auto-flush fixtures.
The new owners, who also built upon their six years of experience running the resurrected “Louie’s” seafood restaurant in Port Washington, have cut back on the kitchen hours.
“We studied the demand at this Donovan’s,” Picone said. “Joe Donovan was wed to the notion of keeping the kitchen open until 1 a.m., but we found that the lack of real demand led to disgruntled service and food that sometimes didn’t live up to Donovan’s reputation for the best.”
The signature burgers, Shepard’s pie and the rest of the new menu will be available until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, according to Picone.
“It’s not like the old days, when the cops, firefighters and hospital workers would come here after late shifts to eat full meals and hang out until late,” Picone mused. “The old-timers are gone and the young people don’t eat and drink heavy late at night,” he lamented.

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