"I feel very satisfied that things have gone as anticipated," said owner Karl Halligan. "People have been bewildered and shocked as to what we were doing here."
A former Manhattanite, Halligan moved across the river in 2000 to accommodate his growing family, but he still wanted to maintain the city living.
"I moved for family reasons," said Halligan. "I have two little boys."
Coming from the Battery Park area, which is surrounded by restaurants and parks, Halligan noticed that there were limited choices in his immediate area.
Halligan said that although Union City is an interesting and cultural town, there are only a few Manhattan-like restaurants in that neighborhood.
Since 1985, Halligan worked in banking (investments and trading), mostly doing business in London, Paris, and the United States.
"I'm always looking for a good investment, and this is a niche area that needs demand," said Halligan. "There is an old saying, 'When you are not satisfied, there is a need for demand.'"
Halligan saw the area's immense potential due to incoming redevelopment and the influx of New Yorkers crossing the Hudson to settle there.
"I started embarking on the idea to look for a [location] that would be beneficial for the community, as well as a destination for people across the other side of the river," said Halligan.
A touch of Dublin
By 2005, Halligan retired from banking and set out on his project. First he explored Hoboken and Weehawken to start his business but, ultimately, he decided to stay in Union City.
"If I'm satisfying myself, then I'm satisfying others in the area," said Halligan. "I represent the mature professionals looking for a good place to go on the weekend other than the typical local [bars]."
What Halligan found was an architectural diamond in the rough.
The property at 3417 Park Ave. was a deteriorated building that was erected in 1855. The building contained the treasure of its original brick that for Halligan was reminiscent of Dublin's classical 18th century Georgian and Victorian architecture.
"The vision [for the architecture] came from my old town in Dublin," said Halligan. "This is a typical building you would see in Dublin."
In Dublin these classic buildings, whose predominant building material is red and rustic brick, are restored and their charm is maintained.
"The premise was, if they could restore the old buildings there, then why not here?" said Halligan. "We gutted the whole building and removed 220 tons of rubble."
Only the skeletal structure of the original brick remained.
When the final touches are completed, the Park Avenue Bar and Grill will debut its unique four-level floor plan. The first floor bar has retained its 1970s design and the exposed original brick.
"The ground level has a very traditional American bar, but with a Soho look," said Halligan.
Although standard bar favorites will be available, the menu will also offer signature dishes.
"There are several choices for everyone. If they're not into the bar scene, we offer an intimate dining experience," said Halligan.
On the second floor, customers will feel like they walked into a completely different space.
"This is a separate business up here," said Halligan. "We wanted to offer luxury and comfort for the dining room area."
The walls of the room, which seats 48, are a bittersweet chocolate amber hue accented by some of the exposed brick. There are also shimmering chandeliers and crackling fireplaces.
The extensive menu features a fusion of American and Latin American cuisines and a wide selection of wines priced from $30 to $200 a bottle.
This space between the levels will allow patrons to enjoy their conversation while hearing the slight buzz of goings on throughout the building.
"They will know they are in the hot zone, but it will not interrupt their conversation," said Halligan.
After dinner, patrons can take the red-carpeted stairs to the third floor lounge, which will feature live music, a selection of appetizers, and a bar.
The lounge offers seating for large groups or more intimate places for two, surrounded by the exposed brick and two working fireplaces.
The fourth level of the building is the rooftop courtyard, which will be open throughout the summer season.
"With the fourth floor courtyard, we are hoping to bring in the new business of brunch and outdoor events," said Halligan.
There is also a first floor courtyard, with its own gate entrance, that will provide outdoor seating.
Every floor has access to a deck, including a second floor gazebo that faces a hanging garden above the ground-level courtyard.
Ready for business
The public will have the chance to sample some of Park Avenue Bar and Grill's upcoming cuisine at the Taste of Union City event on Sunday, April 29.
Park Avenue Bar and Grill will be open seven days a week. For more information, visit www.parkavenuebarandgrill.com. Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org