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Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy to honor BP Adams, restaurateur O’Keeffe

August 12, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which programs free and low-cost cultural, recreational and educational events in the popular waterfront park, has announced that it plans to honor “two incredible Brooklyn legends” at its Brooklyn Black Tie Ball — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and River Café owner Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe — on Thursday, Oct. 7.

The Conservancy plans to “recognize and celebrate Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for his leadership, stewardship, and tireless work for our borough; as well as Buzzy O’Keeffe, resilient and generous restaurateur and owner of The River Café—which opened in 1977, making the Brooklyn waterfront a new destination,” according to a statement from the group.

Adams, the Democratic nominee for NYC mayor and in all probability the next mayor, was born in Brownsville and grew up in a working-class household in Jamaica, Queens. After he and his brother were beaten by police, he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Adams served as an NYPD cop for 22, retiring with the rank of captain. He also co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, which advocated for African-Americans in the department and fought against police brutality. Adams was elected to the state Senate from a Brooklyn district and became the Brooklyn borough president in 2013.

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Restaurateur Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe in front of his famed River Café on the Brooklyn waterfront. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

When O’Keeffe, a former Army veteran, opened the River Café in 1977, Fulton Ferry was a half-abandoned, desolate neighborhood. The café was a prime force in the area’s renewal. It was an immediate success, as it won the Parks Council Award in 1978 and the Municipal Arts Society Award in 1979.

Bryan Miller of The New York Times once called the River Cafe “the Harvard Business School of the culinary world” because it produced so many world-class chefs. After the café, like much of Brooklyn’s waterfront, was decimated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, O’Keeffe personally supervised its reconstruction, telling the Eagle in 2014 that “I’ve been here every day for 14 months.”

The theme of this year’s Black Tie Ball, which will take place outdoors on Pier 2 overlooking New York Harbor at 6 p.m., is “Brooklyn Forever!” The Conservancy will be joined by co-chairs Nancy and Tony Bowe and Jared and Carolina Della Valle in designing the celebratory gala. “We’ve not been able to gather for our annual gala since 2019, and we miss you!” the group said in a statement.

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