Downey’s Bar and Grill keeps neighborhood feel on Mosholu

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It’s a mystery how Brian Downey and Bobby Cook ever get any sleep. 

Between coaching the North Riverdale Baseball League and the Fordham Prepatory School’s basketball team together — juggling Downey’s job as a firefighter and Cook’s as a sanitation worker — the duo run Downey’s Bar and Grill at 5790 Mosholu Ave. Downey and Cook opened the location last October, replacing the bar Kelly Ryan’s that once inhabited the space. 

For 13 years, Downey bartended at Kelly Ryan’s, making a name for himself among its regular patrons. So when the opportunity came to take over, he jumped right on it, recruiting Cook to be his partner.

“Being able to come back and make it our own, and putting the name on it, it was nice. It was good,” Downey said. “It was full circle.” 

Kelly Ryan’s closed in July, giving Downey and his team a little more than three months to give the place a complete facelift. 

They renovated the floors and light fixtures, re-painted the place, and added new wallpaper. 

The goal for Downey’s, according to Downey himself, is to bring a “grab a burger, bring your kids kind of atmosphere,” to make the establishment accessible for all ages.

Since its opening, Downey and Cook have boasted a brunch menu on weekends, as well as what they call “the best burger in town.”

The duo also plans to implement more social activities for patrons. So far, they have men’s and women’s dart teams that meet weekly, and an Irish music session on Saturdays. 

But now, they’re looking to bring in a psychic to read tarot cards. They also want to make a paint night — where people can drink wine and paint with their friends — a more regular occurrence.

“It’s fun, it’s different,” Downey said. “Not everybody shoots darts … but to pick up a brush — even the less artistic people will have a little fun doing it.”

Downey and Cook are succeeding at the new bar and grill because Downey believes they have the community’s support as well as the support of former Kelly Ryan’s patrons.

“Change is always hard,” he said. “Especially when people (have) their little system. But they accepted the changes, and it’s all for the better.” 

Aside from dealing with government paperwork and all of the bureaucratic matters that come with owning a bar and grill, Downey and Cook don’t have any pressing challenges ahead of them right now.

“We trust each other,” Cook said. “It’s smooth sailing.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Downey’s wife keeps them grounded when they need it.

“We’re two teddy bears,” he said. “So she (cracks) the whip a little bit.”

Although coordinating their busy schedules to make time for Downey’s Bar and Grill can be a balancing act, Downey and Cook both agree it will continue to pay off.

“I think it’s going to be well worth it in the long run,” Downey said.

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