Covering Battery Park City


BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Gate House Closing:

For seven years, the Gate House on South End Avenue at Albany Street wasn’t just another restaurant to a lot of Battery Park City residents. It was their refuge, their club, a place friendly to kids and dogs where people could hang out with friends and neighbors, summer and winter. At the end of the business day on Tuesday, February 22, the Gate House will close.

Owner Eddie Yu said that his landlord, the LeFrak Organization, wasn’t interested in extending his lease, and added that he wasn’t interested in extending his lease, either – certainly not at a higher rent than he’s been paying. “I’m losing money the way it is,” said Yu.

He said that he had been thinking of closing during the month of December, and finally reached a decision on January 31.

“I do not blame LeFrak,” said Yu. “As a landlord, you get the best tenant who pays the best rent.”

Yu added, “I believe I was a good tenant.” He said he had never owed any back rent until recently, when he was maybe two months in arrears.

Yu, who formerly owned Fox Hounds across South End Avenue from the Gate House, said that when the financial crisis started in 2008, it hurt his business. When Merrill Lynch and Dow Jones moved out of the World Financial Center, he lost a significant number of customers.

Neighborhood residents became, even more than previously, the backbone of the Gate House’s clientele. In addition to the regulars at the bar, many people came in with their children. “Friday nights, it’s all families,” said Fiona Gallagher, a Gate House waitress. “A lot of the kids have grown up here. We’ve known them since they were babies.”

Gallagher is one of 25 employees who will lose their jobs when the restaurant closes. “My employees are not just employees,” said Yu. “They’re good friends. Some have been working with me 15 or 16 years.”

Still, he said, he wasn’t worried about them. “They’re capable,” he said. He felt confident that they would find other work.

As for himself, he said he turned 65 in October and has been working for more than 40 years. “If I work another five years, I’m 70,” he said. “What difference does it make? I don’t really care. Fight or not fight? I don’t want to fight.”

Yu said that he knew that many of his customers were sad that the Gate House was closing. Some of them, in fact, have started a Facebook page called “Gate House Club House Alumni” where they are posting photos of Gate House parties and their many treasured memories of what some have called Battery Park City’s “Cheers.”

“They’ll find another place to go,” said Yu. “This isn’t a tragedy. It’s a business decision.”

Connection bus:

Some riders of the Downtown Alliance’s Connection bus were undoubtedly startled on Saturday, February 12, when large, blue-and-white buses rolled up instead of the small, silver vans to which they were accustomed. These buses are only temporary, however, until new buses can be built for the Downtown Alliance by TMC Group in Elkhart, Ind.

The free Connection bus service runs daily between the South Street Seaport and Broadway near City Hall. The Alliance has hired a new vendor to manage the Connection service based on the vendor’s promise to provide “state of the art” buses with diesel engines equipped with the latest green technology.

The new buses were scheduled to arrive in the spring. However, recently enacted federal regulations required changes to the bus design and delayed their delivery. They should be on Lower Manhattan’s streets by the end of May or the beginning of June.

To ensure that there would be no gap in service, the vendor agreed to provide an interim fleet. These buses, like their eventual replacements, have onboard monitors where riders can watch information about Lower Manhattan.

However, the interim buses are not wheelchair accessible. Riders who need that service can call (212) 232-0141 or (917) 939-1037 to schedule pickups and dropoffs at a Downtown Connection stop. Appointments can be made from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. seven days a week.

Bone Marrow Donor Needed:

Three-year-old Rayan Sher’s parents, Sarah and Farhan, moved to Battery Park City two years ago full of hope that this would be a great place in which to raise their son. However, a few months ago, Rayan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of blood cancer that will probably be fatalunless a suitable bone marrow donor can be found.

Rayan is of Pakistani background, a group greatly under-represented in the bone marrow donor pool. Anyone from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and neighboring countries) is more likely to be a match for Rayan than someone of a differing ethnicity.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 who is in good health can be a bone marrow donor. The test to determine compatibility involves a cheek swab and takes less than a minute. If a donor is found to be a match, the process of donating often does not involve surgery and even if it does, donors can generally go home the day they donate.

For information about how to help Rayan, e-mail helpout@curerayan.org or go to www.curerayan.org

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest story ideas, e-mail TereseLoeb@mac.com.