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Photo via O'Neill's Maspeth on Facebook
George O'Neill, owner of O'Neill's restaurant, has died at 83.

George O’Neill, a longtime member of the Maspeth community through his popular O’Neill’s restaurant on 53rd Drive, died last week at the age of 83.

O’Neill passed away on July 18 and was laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery on July 23, under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home. O’Neill’s restaurant released a statement on its Facebook page on July 18 commenting on the late owner’s legacy.

“When you walked into O’Neill’s everyone knew him and he knew everyone right back,” the statement said. “He was the best husband, best Father, Best Grandfather and best friend to all…George you will be missed. You put up a good fight, we love you.”

O’Neill’s restaurant first opened its doors on the day Prohibition ended, Dec. 5, 1933. Founded by O’Neill’s father, George O’Neill Sr., it was originally called the Plateau Tavern and is approaching its 85th anniversary as a family-owned and -operated business.

After serving in the Army as a cook, O’Neill returned from his tour of duty in 1956 to help the restaurant grow and thrive. He eventually became the proprietor of the business along with his son-in-law, Danny Pyle.

Over the years, O’Neill’s became known for much more than just the local spot to get a bite to eat. It had an even larger impact on the community as the site of family christenings, communion gatherings, confirmation parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, retirement parties and benefits for the NYPD, FDNY and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

A fire in 2011 destroyed the restaurant, but O’Neill and his staff worked over the next two years to rebuild and reopen the popular eatery.

Today, the restaurant is awaiting the final vote on its application to change its zoning so it can add a second-story banquet hall to host even more community events. At public forums such as Community Board 5, several residents spoke about the great work O’Neill’s has done in the community, and the expansion gained the approval of the community board.

O’Neill is survived by his brother James, wife Mary, son George, daughters Tara, Mary Beth, Deirdre, Jennifer and Tracy, daughter-in-law Jennifer, son-in-laws Danny, Brian, Emile and Michael, grandchildren Daniel, Caitlin, Jack, Michaela, Riley, Kieran, Molly, Madison, Sean, Logan, Hannah, Ryan, Shea, Dylan, Matthew and Mason.

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