The restaurant has been a favorite neighborhood hangout since the first half of the 20th Century, but complaints at a recent COP104 meeting have ruffled some feathers among residents living near the establishment and O’Neill himself.
The complaints, which were made by a group of frustrated Maspeth residents at January’s meeting, indicated that patrons of O’Neill’s are rude, rowdy, loud, obnoxious, and may even be responsible for the increase in vandalism throughout the area.
The residents that spoke at the meeting said that Monday night, on which O’Neill’s has specials on hot wings and caters to a much younger high school and college crowd, has brought an influx of feisty youth into the area, and residents said that many of the bothersome incidents have occurred late on Monday nights.
According to O’Neill, he has not received any complaints from neighbors. He explained that he has always tried to be a good neighbor, and would be willing to discuss any issue, be it positive or negative, with anyone who lived near his restaurant.
“We’ve received no complaints at all,” he said. “And if anyone did ever complain to us, we would ask them to take us to the property damage, show it to us, and we would try and find a way to pay for it.”
A visit to O’Neill’s “Wings Night” revealed a crowded restaurant packed full of teenagers and adults, but the environment was controlled and orderly. All patrons were asked for identification before being served, and the noise level in any of the establishment’s many rooms was never so loud as to require shouting.
Outside of the bar, teenagers gathered to wash their spicy chicken wings down with cigarettes while waiting for rides, but even they were relatively quiet and closely watched by employees of the restaurant.
There are several signs throughout the restaurant reminding customers to be quiet and polite when coming to and from the establishment, saying “This is a residential community. Please respect our neighbors.”
On Mondays, the restaurant typically gets crowded at around 7 p.m., and during the school year, clears out at around 10 p.m. During the summer, when school is out, the younger kids may stay later in the night until 11 or 12.
“Nobody is more careful about safety than me,” said O’Neill.
On Monday nights, which is arguably his most crowded night, he has retired police officers drop by the bar to socialize and keep an eye on the kids.
A number of neighborhood parents are happy to send their kids to O’Neill’s, as they know that they will be in a safe, friendly environment where the youngsters can socialize without alcohol.
"In most cases, the parents come with their kids the first time they visit, as chaperones," said John McDonald, the restaurant's manager. "After that, they let them come on their own."
In addition to the complaints made at the COP104 meeting, O’Neill says that his restaurant has received a few anonymous complaints regarding its patrons over the last few weeks, but the owner dismissed them due to what he described as their inflammatory and insulting nature.
“Knock on wood, but we’ve never had a bit of trouble here at the bar,” said O’Neill. “For all the aggravation we’ve had lately, the one thing we can say about O’Neill’s is that we have the best steak in New York City.”