Look Who Else Is 20!

WE'RE not the only ones who are celebrating 20 years of going from strength to strength. CAHIR O'DOHERTY profiles three other businesses that also opened their doors in 1987.

The Irish Repertory Theatre FOUNDED by Ciaran O'Reilly and Charlotte Moore, the Irish Repertory Theatre first opened its doors 20 years ago with a widely celebrated production of Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars.

Their original plan as an emerging company was to bring works by Irish and Irish American masters and contemporary playwrights to American audiences, and in this ambition they have succeeded admirably over the years. Now they are celebrating two decades of first-rate Irish drama in a theatre they finally can call their own.

"I'm delighted to say it's the 20th season," O'Reilly told the Irish Voice this week. "Our current production, John B. Keane's Sive is doing very well and has been extended now through November 25. After that we're producing The Devil's Disciple by George Bernard Shaw. It's been a good year to take stock of the all the positive changes and the shows themselves are attracting enthusiastic audiences."

In 1995, the Rep (as it's known in Irish circles) made its permanent home in Chelsea on three completely renovated floors of a former warehouse, which they finally purchased this year for $6 million. The purchase and their full season of new productions currently make them the only year-round theater company in New York City dedicated to bringing Irish and Irish American works to the stage.

Their efforts have not gone unrewarded either. This year the Rep was recognized with the 2007 Jujamcyn Theatres Award, and in previous years they have received a special Drama Desk Award for "Excellence in Presenting Distinguished Irish drama," and the Lucille Lortel Award for an "Outstanding Body of Work."

More than 32,000 audience members annually attend the Rep's productions, and once there they witness the theater's engaging perspective on the Irish and their unique contributions to the world of drama, with productions culled from the recognized masters to works that represent the new generation of Irish and Irish American writers who are transforming the stage.

The Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street, New York. Call 212-727-2737.

Harbour Lights

THIS famous South Street Seaport restaurant offers an extensive American contemporary menu featuring fine seafood that's presented in a dramatic setting that against the dramatic backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River. Now celebrating its 20th successful year of operation, Harbour Lights has been an Irish owned and operated success story from the beginning. "Since the day we opened business has been fabulous. We have a strong Wall Street Irish crowd and they've always been really supportive, coming here since the first day we opened," says manager Ann Marie Delaney. "I'm pleased to say that business these days has been the best it's been since we've opened."

Dinner can start with a raw bar for two with clams, oysters and other delights, or the delicious seafood chowder. Then select from tempting entrees such as crab cakes, sea scallops, Maine lobster or charred yellow fin tuna.

Says Delaney, "Seafood is a specialty since we're located at the Seaport. But we also serve Irish specialties like shepherd's pie, fish and chips and Dublin mussels."

You can choose to dine indoors or out on the deck (remember that the outdoors deck was recently voted One of the 10 Most Romantic Places to Kiss in New York City).

Harbour Lights, Pier 17, third floor, South Street Seaport, New York. Call 212-227-2800.

Sidetracks Restaurant and Lounge

SIDETRACKS Restaurant and Lounge has been at the heart of Sunnyside, Queens for 20 years now. Located in one of the most fascinatingly diverse neighborhoods on earth, the venue has recently undergone a dramatic interior redesign that has turned it into an irresistible social magnet for the neighborhood. "We opened for business the same year as the Irish Voice did," says Andy Breslin, Sidetracks' proprietor.

"There are a lot of Irish people who have lived for many years in the neighborhood and they've become welcome regulars. The neighborhood is quite a diverse place, and our clientele reflects that."

When entering the space from the city streets, the first thing you'll notice is that the new colors used in the ultra-stylish refit are soothing but powerful. Straight away your hostess will greet you and you can choose to visit the bar/lounge area or opt to dine in the restaurant.

"The restaurant offers American continental dining, with lunch from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. when dinner begins. The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. and we have a twilight menu that is available until 2 a.m.," Breslin adds.

The newly redesigned restaurant and the back dining area is separated by an ingenious glass wall that can "fog up" by the flick of a switch to accommodate private parties. Sidetracks offers fine dining, a state of the art, stylish lounge and bar and private parties are certain to be in high demand in this neighborhood hot spot.

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