North Brooklyn residents enjoy new cafe at McCarren Park

Historic building had fallen into disrepair

July 2, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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North Brooklyn residents are now enjoying a new cafe at McCarren Park, courtesy of the city Parks Department, which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.

The historic building in which the cafe is housed also serves as a new hub for the Parks Department’s North Brooklyn Maintenance and Operations, and Parks Enforcement Patrol staff. It was originally built in 1911 by the firm of McKim, Mead & White as a comfort station with locker rooms.

“We are thrilled to herald the start of the summer season, while continuing New York City’s ongoing recovery, by welcoming the opening of a brand new cafe at McCarren Park,” said Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, who was joined by cafe operators Aaron Broudo and Belvy Klein.  

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso commented, “As a Williamsburg native, I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time at McCarren over the years and seeing it’s slow but steady transformation, becoming a central attraction for families and young adults in the surrounding communities.”

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“We feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity to restore an historic NYC Parks building in such an idyllic public setting,” said ParkHouse operators Broudo and Klein, who are also the operators of the Brooklyn Bazaar and Rockaway Beach Bazaar. “We can’t wait to welcome all New Yorkers to the city’s newest Park kiosk this summer.”

The historic building in McCarren Park that now contains the “ParkHouse” cafe.

The new McCarren ParkHouse includes four separate food businesses operating in unison:

  • Club.  With a menu rooted in American classics and a rotating selection of seasonal sides, Club is a sandwich oasis in the middle of McCarren Park.  
  • OddFellows.  Offering high-quality ice cream since opening their first shop in 2013, OddFellows has concocted hundreds of flavors alongside reimagined and improved classics.  
  • Blank Street.  Local coffee purveyor Blank Street offers coffee, seasonal drinks, and pastries, with early operating hours to appeal to commuters, dog walkers and picnickers alike. 
  • Park Bar serves an eclectic selection featuring New York breweries and wineries, with an added focus on batch, frozen and signature cocktails that will change seasonally. 
Among those taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new ParkHouse cafe at McCarren Park are Tony Macari (Parks Department), Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Aaron Broudo, Belvy Klein and David Cerron (Parks Department).

The historic structure at McCarren Park was the beneficiary of more than $3 million in private capital funds for its adaptive re-use. Its paint was stripped to reveal the original historic brick detailing. The building was also expanded with a retractable glass-doored dining area that opens to the patio and provides expansive views of the park. 

Additionally, the building’s oil tanks and gas lines were decommissioned, and the building is now entirely electric. Throughout the design and construction process, the design team, led by Brooklyn-based KTISMA Studios, worked closely with NYC Parks and Public Design Commission staff.

McCarren ParkHouse now includes more than 100 outdoor seats at picnic tables and 30 seats inside of the building. The building also features restored and an increased number of restroom facilities that are available to the general public. The restrooms now feature ADA-access, double the number of stalls, and a baby-changing station.

Visitors to McCarren Park enjoy the outdoor tables at McCarren Park’s new cafe, covered to protect people from the sun.

Over the course of the past several decades, the historic building fell into disrepair. Its original dark red Harvard brick with limestone details had been painted red and black to conceal years of graffiti and the green tile roof was replaced with standing metal seam. 

In an effort to revitalize this space, Parks released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development, operation and maintenance of a food service facility at the park. The contract was awarded to the events and concession company founded by Broudo and Klein.

Parks Commissioner Susan Donoghue speaks at the opening of the new cafe. She’s seen here with Belvy Klein and Aaron Broudo, ParkHouse operators.

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