Category: Archive

Half King woos the glitterati

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

Step into the Half King and you might rub elbows at the polished bar with a few names more familiar from New York’s newspaper bylines or the big screen’s rolling credits.

Opened just two weeks ago, the Half King bar and restaurant is the brainchild of Cork-born entrepreneur and fledgling film producer Jerome O’Connor and his three partners — Sebastian Junger, author of the best-seller "The Perfect Storm," Nanette Burstein, the award-winning documentary maker and writer-journalist Scott Anderson.

Given that line-up, the owners hope they can create a smart, yet casual Manhattan hangout that will draw the city’s scribes with good food and atmosphere — a place for the literati to drink, eat, meet, mingle.

And on a recent Friday, the clientele mingling in the bar’s candle-lit rooms and shady backyard included a few hacks and at least one Hollywood producer — think "Gladiator" and "The Godfather." But don’t believe those plush red seats are exclusive to literary derrieres.

"We don’t want people to feel excluded," said author Junger. "There is just no bar in the city that will draw journalists and film industry people in particular," he said.

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The owners plan to hold regular readings and photo-journalism exhibitions inside the Chelsea district West 23rd Street bar, Junger said, and the restaurant will open within the next two weeks.

For O’Connor, who owned the East Village spot St. Dymphna’s, Half King brings together his two most recent business interests.

Two years ago, O’Connor entered into the film industry himself, optioning the rights to "An Everlasting Piece," a humorous tale set in Northern Ireland and written by Belfast actor Barry McEvoy. The film was picked up by DreamWorks and will be released at the end of this year.

The plan for Half King evolved after O’Connor met with his current partners over the counter at St. Dymphna’s and during producing trips to the West Coast for McEvoy’s film.

O’Connor might have fallen into the film industry by coincidence, but he is not one to miss an opportunity. With a few more producing projects already lined up, he is now working on a film loosely based on a trip by Junger and Anderson to Bosnia.

"Everybody would like to get into making movies," O’Connor said with a wry smile. " I just didn’t think it was going to be this easy."

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