By Olivia Tracey
Well, I’m back in love again. The object of my affections? New York City. Exactly two years since my last visit, I’m finding a lot of truth in the old story of absence making the heart grow fonder. Part of the attraction of course is the Big Apple’s natural energy, but the best part is catching up with friends and family, and all the fun that goes with it. And what better season to do it than Christmas?
Speaking of family, I started my five-day marathon by the cozy fireside of Des and Connie Crawford’s Westchester home along with my sister Anne and her
husband, David. Thanks to the Aer Lingus two-for-one special, big sis and I got to do the New York splurge before joining forces again back in Ireland for Christmas and New Years. Needless to say, we got the usual red hot
welcome from the Crawfords, not to mention their animated troupe of persians and poodles, as we chatted over Barry’s tea in their festively decorated living room, done with tremendous flair by Des.
We also paid a visit to the nearby family-run Off Broadway restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, where the warm candlelit atmosphere perfected the delicious menu. Back in the city, I stopped by my favorite haunt, P.J. Carney’s, on
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Seventh Avenue, where time seemed to stand still. Dubliner Dave was behind the bar, handling the bustling pub with great style, while I rejoiced at meeting old friends, including artist Bob Cenedella and my part-Irish
girlfriend, model/actress Pamela Renee, whose blonde-haired, high-cheekboned beauty was causing quite a stir among the male populace.
Then I was off to Kennedy’s to visit Mike Glynn, who, along with Katherine Toner, proved to be equally talented in the festive decoration department. And well he was looking too, to the tune of at least 10 years younger. I’m
not surprised that the handsome Galwegian has had a string of film offers that he, unfortunately, had to turn down due to the booming business in Kennedy’s. As always, the cozy bar was aflush with celebrities, including
Roscoe Lee Brown and Lawrence Fishbourne, who seems to have discovered a new home away from home.
Meanwhile, on a lunchtime visit to Beckett’s, where trade was very healthy indeed, I met with proprietor Ronan Downs, who is delighted to be opening his next venue directly opposite Beckett’s on Pearl Street. So he whisked me away from the best raspberry cheesecake I’ve yet to savor, thanks to chef Peter Halberg, to give me a sneak preview of Waterstone’s. There I met one of his partners, Eugene Devlin, who had his sleeves rolled up putting the
finishing touches to the two-story 6,000-square-foot eatery, along with designer Niamh Massey Doyle, who deserves great credit for a job well done.
Ronan is overjoyed to have yet another talented chef on board in Conor Powell, as well as a loyal and hardworking team that includes Teresa Drury, handsome bartender Brendan Matthews, Emer Quinlan, who has just been
appointed the new general manager for both establishments, and a host of staff who, by the way, now number 25 after having started off with 10 only four years ago.
Also in the lineup for a bar and restaurant opening is former Fitzpatrick’s bartender extraordinaire Loreta Kenny, along with her darling husband, Philip Quilter, currently of P.J. Carney’s Eastside. The somewhat newlyweds are heading to Manhattan’s Soho district at 14th Street and Hudson to open their first pub, an expansive two-story, 7000-square-foot venue to be called "Q Junction." Well, if this couple’s bartending and hospitality skills are anything to go by, this venture should be a roaring success. They
certainly deserve it. So, keep your eye out for the Q Junction opening around St. Patrick’s Day.
This, of course, is great news for all of us, especially Eugene Brophy of Brophy Brothers Vegetables, who is already overjoyed at the tremendous support he has received from the Irish hoteliers, publicans and
restaurateurs. Also adding a sideline in the restaurant world is ETM Travel’s John Murray, who, along with a few partners, is bestowing great faith in the new Northern Ireland peace agreement by opening The Mongolian
Restaurant beside The Europa Hotel on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street. Of course, he will remain in the travel business, which is also enjoying fine weather indeed.
Aer Lingus’ Jack Foley is very happy with the tremendous success of the recently launched direct L.A.-to-Ireland route, which will go from three flights a week to daily service from next May. He is also delighted about
the recently launched alliance with American Airlines, which means that "Advantage" points can be both earned and redeemed on Aer Lingus, which, of course, will only further promote our national airline in its 160 destination
cities across the United States.
Back on the ground, we were doing our own form of high-flying in Rosie O’Grady’s, where I was thrilled to gather some of my good buddies who managed a fantastic Irish/New York welcome for me despite Islin, N.J., set
dancing engagements, colds, flus and the like. Part of the group were five of the above-mentioned: Loreta Kenny, John Murray, Eugene Brophy, my sister Anne and her husband, David, along with the ever-gregarious Attracta Lyndon and my other bombshell girlfriend, Ford model Glenys Frank. No doubt she could give a tip or two to Attracta’s youngest daughter, journalism student
Trish, 20, who, being a gorgeous 5-foot-11, was spotted by a photographer in Boston and now has a stylish portfolio under her arm. Coincidentally, the budding model is off to Paris in the fall where the makeup artist from the Boston photo shoot will arrange various introductions, including a meeting with Chanel. So while Trish takes off down the catwalk, mom Attracta has a celebration of her own with a brand new silver Mitsubishi
Gallant bestowed on her by her equally gallant boss, Dan Dooley. A nice token of appreciation for Christmas!
I was delighted to at last meet gentleman of gentlemen Mike Carty, who made sure that we had the time of our lives, assisted by manager James Clare and our delightful waitress, Frances, a Kildare lass who was doing an admirable job of dealing with the Dublin-Kildare slagging from the Jackeens at our table, namely my fun-loving brother-in-law.
And so the partying progressed over the course of my too brief stay. Mind you, it was a heartwarming start to the forthcoming Christmas in Dublin with yet more family and friends. And isn’t that exactly what the festive season
is all about — sharing life, love and laughter with the ones we care most about? And on that note, I send you all my very best wishes for a peaceful, healthful and happy holiday, and may all your dreams come true in the new