Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill’s Water Club

NYC restaurateur neglects Hudson Ave. building site
Construction site at 64 Hudson Avenue (Photo by Mike Matteo)

Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe is a legendary New York City restaurateur who owns and operates the iconic River Café in Brooklyn and the Water Club in Manhattan. For the past 10 years, O’Keeffe has also owned a parcel of land at the bottom of Hudson Avenue near the Peekskill train station. His promise of bringing his magic touch from New York City has so far only produced a concrete pit full of construction debris, surrounded by metal wire fence.

O’Keeffe’s Peekskill site abuts a restored red brick apartment building “The Bowen” and is just around the corner from long-time Peekskill dry cleaners Nunzio Tailor and Cleaners.

The O’Keeffe parcel becomes a de facto swimming pool whenever rains come down. And the site presents a poor image of Peekskill to visitors.

Image captured during a week of heavy rains at the end of June. (Photo by Mike Matteo)

O’Keeffe bought the property, then Geneva’s Restaurant, from Wilson and Naia Godinho in November of 2013 for $275,000 according to county land records. O’Keeffe’s company was named Peekskill Hudson Street LLC. Godinho purchased the property from Charles Scivoletto in 1996 for $100,000 according to land records.

According to a document from the Planning Department filed in November 2019, O’Keeffe’s application to build a new restaurant on the site was first approved in September of 2012. Three years later he received further approvals for a 364-square-foot addition to the kitchen and indoor seating. The Geneva building was a three-story, 3,106-square-foot property. Apartments on the second and third floors were to be renovated. According to records filed with the New York Department of State, it appears that O’Keeffe also intended to bring his ice cream empire to Peekskill as well, possibly across the street from the former Geneva restaurant site.

Image of the building at 64 Hudson Avenue is from a Peekskill Planning document from 2019.

In 2014, several other limited liability companies – Peekskill Ice Cream LLC, 52 Hudson Avenue LLC and Hudson Avenue Peekskill LLC – were created by O’Keeffe but never conducted any business. In fact, Peekskill assessor’s records show the building at 52 Hudson Avenue is owned by Keith Bobolia of Home Mason Supply.

The building at 52 Hudson Avenue across from the unfinished construction site. (Photo by Mike Matteo)

The Planning Department recommended that the site plan approval for the renovation projection be extended until May 13, 2020, which would have been right around the time that the worldwide Covid pandemic decimated the restaurant industry.

However, the project to renovate the building seems to have never happened. Instead, the building was demolished, leaving in its wake the current mess.


In a Peekskill Today video workers are shown tearing down the former Geneva’s in June of 2022.

“We are working to rebuild the Geneva’s grill,” says the narrator Godinho in the video. Godinho says the building is owned by “my boss,” presumably meaning O’Keeffe. “I promise he is going to rebuild it the way it was before.”

O’Keeffe apparently intended to help revive Peekskill in the same way he did to help revive the DUMBO section of Brooklyn back in the 1970s when he opened The River Café.

O’Keeffe displayed legendary perseverance and tenacity to build The River Café. According to the New York Times, it took him 12 years to win all the necessary approvals from the city. During that time he opened seven other restaurants in Manhattan.

O’Keeffe is considered something of a player in the New York City hospitality industry. The River Café, on a barge at Dumbo’s Fulton Ferry Landing, holds court at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, where it’s surrounded by a grove of fairy-light-encrusted trees and is one of the last remaining city restaurants with a strict “jackets required” policy for male diners.

This is the scene at the corner of Hudson Avenue  and Water Street these days. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

He also owns and operates the Water Club, on the East River at the foot of East 30th Street, a restaurant and popular wedding venue, and was co-owner of Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, a wildly popular Dumbo ice cream parlor that opened in the early 2000’s.

A question to City Manager Matt Alexander asking what the city could do to encourage development of the site was not returned. O’Keeffe did not return a call for comment.








About the Contributor
Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.