Pub grub haven lives on as Woodside pair purchase bar

Donovan's Pub in Woodside will remain a happy hour hotspot after it was purchased by two local men.
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A pub food institution in Woodside will keep serving hearty cuisine after a pair of neighborhood guys bought the restaurant from the outgoing owner.

Donovan’s, the storied Irish watering hole, at 57-24 Roosevelt Ave., is in new hands after James Jacobson and Dan Connor, both born and raised in Woodside, purchased it Dec. 28 from longtime owner Joe Donovan.

Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said the neighborhood is excited that two Woodside residents stepped in and will keep the Donovan name alive.

“We’re just thrilled because one of the guys is a former dishwasher and bartender at the restaurant and the other is well-known locally,” said Conley. “Donovan’s legacy will continue in Woodside and we are happy it is going to survive.”

Conley said Jacobson and Connor would take over any day now as soon as their temporary liquor license is approved.

“They are very engaged in the community and interested in carrying on the Donovan tradition,” he said. “We think it’s a win-win.”

Donovan’s Pub, which opened in 1966, is one of many Irish pubs near the intersection of Roosevelt and Woodside avenues but is most famous for its burgers, which frequently land on Top 10 lists of best burgers in the city. Time Out New York put Donovan’s Pub at the top of the list in 2004. The most recent Zagat Survey ranking gave it 20 out of 30 for food, 15 out of 30 for decor and 18 out of 30 for service.

The pub’s former owner, Joe Donovan, previously owned Donovan’s Grill and Tavern, at 214-16 41st Ave., but sold the Bayside restaurant four years ago and the two locations are no longer affiliated.

Conley said the new owners are looking to remedy a problem that the former owner dealt with on a daily basis. Parking is prohibited from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the south side of Roosevelt Avenue for several blocks around the pub.

According to Conley, the prospect of having cars towed during happy hour kept customers away and hurt Donovan’s bottom line.

“We think this is an antiquated parking system and we’ve asked the Department of Transportation to change the regulations,” he said. “Every day at 4 p.m., tow trucks start lining up at 50th Street and the city makes a windfall. We think it might not be in the best interest of the community.”

But with or without parking problems, Conley said the community will reap the benefits of new ownership at Donovan’s as Jacobson and Connor continue to serve the pub’s much-ballyhooed burgers and shepherd’s pies.

“The new owners have said much will remain the same,” said Conley. “Mention Donovan’s around the world and they are known for the absolute best burgers. It has also added a lot of character to Woodside over the years.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 3:50 pm, January 17, 2013
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