Who Wants to Open a Café at Cadman Park?

NYC Parks thinks someone should! Here’s their press release in full:

NYC Parks has released a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the operation, maintenance, and development of a new café at Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn. Cadman Plaza serves as a focal point for the entire Brooklyn Heights community and is an ideal location for a new café. The park is frequented by families, joggers, and dog-walkers, as well as commuters and local employees. The RFP offers a unique opportunity for a prospective proposer to transform an existing building into a brand-new café.

“Cadman Plaza Park is a beautiful open space with so much potential for a café, which would serve all of Downtown Brooklyn,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We encourage interested operators to consider Cadman Plaza Park as a great new location to provide food services to a hungry community!”

Parks is seeking a concessionaire for a fifteen-year term. The proposed site of this café, along Cadman Plaza West and Tillary Street, was built in the 1950s and used as a Parks maintenance building. It is a one-story building approximately 450 square feet in size.

Cadman Plaza Park’s significant foot traffic is due in part to the adjacent US District Court for the Eastern District of New York and other nearby government offices such as the NYC Office of Emergency Management, Brooklyn Borough Hall, and Kings County Supreme Court. Cadman Plaza Park is also highly accessible by public transportation: the A, C, F, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 subway lines and the B25, B26, B38, B41, B52, and B103 bus lines all have stops close to the park.

All proposals for this RFP must be submitted no later than Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. Parks will hold a recommended remote proposer meeting on Monday, January 9, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. All interested parties considering responding to this RFP are encouraged to attend this recommended remote proposer meeting. (Log-in details can be found in the RFP). Subject to availability and by appointment only, Parks may set up a meeting at the proposed concession site, which is located at Cadman Plaza West and Tillary Street.

The RFP is available for download through Wednesday, February 15, 2023, on Parks’ website. To download the RFP, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities and, after logging in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFP’s description.

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  • skb

    Curious as to where the “a one-story building approximately 450 square feet in size” is? I’m thinking the little building adjacent to Juneteenth Grove?

  • clover_hill_billy

    No, thank you. How about creating more green space to enjoy nature, recreation and some peace?

  • Jorale-man

    I don’t know…There’s a fair amount of litter in the park as it stands. If they’re adding more disposable cups and food wrappers to the mix, there should also be a plan for better sanitation around the park.

  • nomcebo manzini

    It’s pretty easy to imagine a lovely amenity – if one is of an optimistic nature. But just as Mayor Bloomberg showed his colors – smart, … but more than a little dictatorial & clueless – when he mandated that school lunchrooms should eschew beverages (or at least provide alternatives) with large amounts of sugar, … the odds are overwhelming that the bid will go to someone “in it for the money,” so it boils down to whether you think much is gained by being able to buy a $5 (maybe, not on day one) bottle of water or whatever is the equivalent of a pop-tart in the 2020’s – truly empty calories. And yes, there WILL be litter, and there certainly are places to buy “to go” food on Henry St. & Tillary near Jay, so we’re talking about saving people 5-minute walks. Worse, will the “infrastructure” – water fountains (they don’t HAVE to be unsanitary) and bathrooms – get better or worse if/when the bid is awarded?

    I believe that Cadman DOES HAVE a “friends of the park” organization. Were they consulted? I doubt it. The Dept. of Parks has long been among the worst of the City agencies. Maybe, they’re the least likely to be adequately funded, but that makes it even more likely that they’ll turn to the private sector just to show that they’re “doing something.”

    It’s a lot like cable. Very few entities will bid on this. The one that gets it – I’m no fan of Fornino’s in BBP – will likely be there for 50 years or more, coining money even if they do the most mediocre job imaginable.

  • Andrew Porter

    Former comfort station, then a utility building for maintenance workers, now surrounded by grass. If they aim for people working in the courthouse across the street, I could see this doing a lot of business.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Utilizing an existing 450-square-foot structure which is original to the park in an area that is already surrounded by green space that is currently only used for dog toileting and sleeping for the unhoused seems like a good idea to me

  • clover_hill_billy

    We have plenty of vendors, pushcarts, cafes, coffee shops in walking distance. I would preserve every square inch of park space for the park.

  • CassieVonMontague

    I think you’re confused. there is no grass surrounding the structure. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b3916e98f2f994136f7fc34fde3f976ce46d664efa439688eacd73a9de36e49.png

  • aeshtron

    I dislike change!

  • Effective Presenter

    Just a step away is the Park Plaza Diner a large, comfortable place with very good food for decades, let PPD benefit $$$ from the newly improved park.

  • Effective Presenter

    We remember Clover Hill Ginny, the owner, manager of Clover Hill on Montague Street, then to Cobble Hill.

    We think Ginny moved to New Mexico.


  • CassieVonMontague

    This is great! It uses an underutilized granite and limestone building that is original to the park. Hopefully this gives our tired and overworked civil servants a great place to get coffee. I’m sure they are sick of waiting in the 20-minute line at Joe that’s full of PS8 parents.

  • KBells40

    A walk-up cafe with window service is good for those who want or need a quick takeaway coffee/sandwich/etc. vs. those who want hot food or a sit-down meal at a diner. Having more options in the immediate vicinity of Cadman Park, and making use of this existing building to benefit the community is a win, in my book.

  • CassieVonMontague

    This will be awful! Just like that awful new library! Bring back the sweltering old library and let those buildings in the park sit unused!

  • Effective Presenter

    True, options are important a quick bite at a walk up, or a meal at the Diner.

  • Effective Presenter

    Civil servants are protected by the very strong CSEA union and not overworked.

  • Andrew Porter

    Oh, that structure. I was thinking of the one on the opposite side of the park.

  • CassieVonMontague

    Then I hope those freeloaders choke on their lattes, and that cafe burns to the ground.

  • A neighbor

    The government building on the park is a federal courthouse. It’s employees are not members of CSEA.

    As someone who worked in that building as an AUSA for years and is a long-time Brooklyn Hts resident, I think a cafe is a great idea.

  • Mike Suko

    I just figured out AUSA, but maybe you can shed some light on this…. What are the food options in that building?

    What you call a “cafe” – and if ever there was a squooshy term, in 2022, that’s it to the max – is probably not at all – I’m guessing about your standards; I’m no snob, but … – what will be on offer if this pretty miserable idea stays afloat.

    Rats are a big problem, and this is certain to make it 10x worse in the Park.

    They are “solving” a problem that doesn’t exist, which means that they will have a negative impact. Classic case of “Nothing’s broken. Leave it TF alone!”

    A building that served as a “comfort station” is not a sensible choice for food service. If they’re closing N. Cadman Park for a year, THAT’s where something like this should go – IF!! there’s really ANY rationale for adding such an “amenity.”

    How many millions were spent on the War Memorial refurb? Anybody been inside since the completion?

  • TeddyNYC

    Litter will probably become an issue if they open a cafe there.

  • Bradley Frome

    Agreed. Conditions for use should include ‘recyclables’ only.

  • Bradley Frome

    Agreed. Perhaps a cafe with no tables or chairs/benches. Take-out only with proper garbage pails on hand.

  • B.

    Everyone likes to point to Paris as the model for outdoor eating and drinking. But if I remember, and it was true also of Florence and Rome, you stand or sit and drink out of ceramic cups; you just don’t stroll away with your coffee and then let the container fall from your hand anywhere. It would be nice if this new place could be as civilized. Or maybe that’s changed, and these cities have become as garbage-strewn as ours.

  • FatFreddy’sCatheter

    Without occasional change, how do we complete our Jefferson Nickels part I Whitman’s folder?

    New vendors must accept hard currency!

  • cool

    I respect that it’s controversial, but I’m supportive of light commercial activity as a way to bring energy and services to the park, particularly if vendor fees can be used to fund park maintenance and if vendors have commitments on litter. A cafe, perhaps also if it were to extend to that over the grass area in that corner of CPW & Tillary could be interesting. As it is now, that area is almost exclusively for the relief of pets. If not there, then perhaps the Plaza across from the PO, which is so grossly under-presented.

    Light commercial activity would be well served on that corner by the Brooklyn Bridge, given the volume of tourist travel. As it is now, those predatory carts under the BQE are such a noxious way to present New York (both auditory and carbon monoxide).