For Pete’s Sake! Fulton Ferry Restaurant Closes

Pete’s Downtown Helped Revitalize Historic Area

Pete’s Downtown, at the corner of Water and Old Fulton streets, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. Eagle file photo.

By Raanan Geberer

FULTON FERRY — Regular visitors to, and residents of, the Fulton Ferry area were surprised that Pete’s Downtown restaurant at 2 Water Street, a fixture in the neighborhood since the 1980s, was not only closed but empty.

An employee of this newspaper yesterday called owner Pete Thristino, who said he wasn’t able to renew his lease with the building owner. According to Property Shark, the building, also known as 1 Old Fulton St., is owned by “Danube LLC” at 45 Main St., Suite 602.

This is the address of Two Trees Management’s office, but a spokeswoman for the firm said Jed and David Walentas, founder and principal of the well-known real estate firm, respectively, were both outside the country and unavailable for comment.

Pete’s was one of the first businesses to move into the area after it began to be redeveloped. The first signs of this redevelopment came in 1977, when BargeMusic and the River Café opened.

Pete Thristino, owner of the restaurant, told this reporter in a 2008 interview that even in the early 1980s, “This was known as an area that when it snowed, there were no footprints.”

Pete’s had 37 reviews posted on Yelp, a consumer review site, and most were positive.

Plans filed with the city Department of Buildings (DOB) in late October for the space include a general renovation of the cellar and the first floor, demolition of the first floor and new partitions. The applicant, Danube, seeks to “increase first-floor occupancy” and change the usage of the building from “restaurant and cabaret,” accommodating 35 people, to an “eating and drinking establishment,” catering to 231 people.

These plans were disapproved by DOB earlier this month, on Dec. 16. Some observers have speculated that this happened because the building is located within the Fulton Ferry Historic District, so it is possible that the next step for the application will be the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The building, on the corner of Water Street, was known as the Franklin House Hotel in the mid-1800s. It was an important hotel and restaurant in the days before the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, when the ferry area was the gateway to Manhattan and visiting merchants, clerks, seamen and farmers needed someplace to stay.

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