The Roasterie owner is gazing through a wall of windows, looking up at the underbelly of a 1943 Douglas DC-3. O’Neill last month installed the refurbished aircraft (minus its heavy engines) at the top of the company’s West Side coffee plant. A line of 72 blue string lights trails the plane like a runway.
“It’s the spirit of inspired adventure,” he says. “Maybe I was a DC-10 pilot in another life.”
In this life — the past two decades of it, anyway — O’Neill has been a businessman, the hands-on leader of a homegrown success story. Painted on the plane’s tail is 5931, O’Neill’s Brookside house number. He and his family still live at 5931, the home where, in 1993, O’Neill started the Roasterie. (The airplane imagery has been a constant from the start, reflecting his lifelong passion for aviation.) His latest venture is the almost finished café space where he’s standing now, inside Roasterie HQ at 1204 West 27th Street. (In a few days, H&R Block is booked here for a corporate gathering.) Steel and dark wood have been trucked in daily to remake this six-year-old space.
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