In 1977, four optimistic men opened Captain’s Ketch, a seafood restaurant, in the iconic American International Building at 70 Pine Street that had recently been bought by the American International Group (AIG). It was both a bold and a smart move, for while the city was in a crime- and financial catastrophe-driven funk there were few restaurants in the area and even fewer seafood places. Captain’s Ketch was a line-out-door instant success.
About twenty years ago, the three older partners retired. The remaining partner, the son of one of the retirees, joined by the son of each of the other partners took over Captain’s Ketch. Eventually, it was just the two newer partners. The restaurant saw other changes with competition from new restaurants, including those at The South Street Seaport, which opened in the late 1980s. 9/11 closed the restaurant for two months and Hurricane Sandy for one. Somewhere along the line the restaurant’s name was shortened to Ketch.
The fiscal crisis of 2007-2008 and the government bailout of AIG also played a role in the restaurant’s future: The building was sold several times and is currently being converted to apartments. With that sale and Downtown’s success as a residential neighborhood, Ketch’s new lease brought a monthly rent increase from $25,000 to $65,000. It was time for its sole remaining partner, John Lopez, to find a new partner and new home.
“Our lease was up in May of 2014 and I actually signed a lease here [6 Platt Street] in September, 2014. There were some construction issues, delays, different lawsuits and different things. We finally got open on February 18, 2016. And here we are. We are the original Ketch – the same chef,” said, Mr. Lopez, proud and excited to be open again and eager to take on the responsibilities of running a restaurant connected to a full service hotel, the Sheraton Four Points. “We buy all sushi-grade tuna, wild salmon, organic chicken, free-range chicken. It’s important to us. Organic eggs,” continued Mr. Lopez. “We always had good quality at our other place, so we brought it here.”
Partners Brendan Straw and John Lopez
My husband and I concur. At Mr. Lopez’s invitation, we enjoyed a meal at Ketch Brewhouse. Everything was excellently prepared with scrupulously fresh ingredients. The Asian Seafood Medley appetizer, tender shrimp, lobster and crab in a piquant sauce, was delicious although not as spicy hot as others might like. The Mediterranean Shrimp with orzo and Kalamata olives was pleasantly briny, with nearly translucent shrimp just at the sweet spot of under-cooked versus overdone. The chicken in the landlubber of the evening’s meal hit that same pinnacle of doneness, being tender and juicy.
As a restaurant connected to a full service hotel, Ketch Brewhouse, as it’s now called since Mr. Lopez’s new partner, Brendan Straw, owns several NY-area Brewhouse restaurants, is open to hotel guests and the public seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, holidays included. The restaurant’s new digs also come with attractive outdoor spaces: Ketch Rooftop bar serves food from a bar menu and Ketch Terrace, which is on the second floor, houses a bar and serves the same menu as the Brewhouse on the main level.