Big Plans for Historic New Bedford Supply Store
NEW BEDFORD — An iconic downtown New Bedford ship chandlers and longtime hangout spot for fishermen could soon find itself on the other side of the supply chain, after a local group revealed plans to turn it into an upscale seafood bistro.
Kruger Brothers closed its doors in 2019 after 100 years of selling provisions, equipment and other supplies to local boaters from its aging 47 Union St. premises.
Now, Jay Lanagan says, the same restaurant group behind Rose Alley Ale House (Lanagan and partners Howie Mallowes, Pat Long, and Al Peters) is planning to renovate the space into an eatery serving up fresh seafood and craft beer and cocktails.
Lanagan said that opening another restaurant in the area wasn't the group's first plan, but it turned out to be the most realistic option.
And it allows the owners to take the building's long history as a mainstay in New Bedford's fishing industry into account.
"For many years, Kruger Brothers was a place that people would stop in and kind of talk, and hang out," Lanagan said. "And Tom Kruger would make a seafood stew every day that he would just give away to whoever came in the door."
"So it does sort of have a history of fresh seafood, and [being] a place where people socialized," he continued. "That's the direction that we're going in at this point."
Lanagan said the group currently plans to keep the Kruger Brothers name as is — but as the building is in "extremely poor condition," he said, it will need extensive work.
Present plans are to open the space up and bring in more light, with a bar facing the whaling museum. And Lanagan said they will be keeping the historic facade.
As far as parking goes, he added that he doesn't foresee a problem, as a recent parking study showed there is plenty of space downtown — and he said spots are easy to find "if you're willing to walk a block or two, which is the norm in a city."
Lanagan estimated that it could take anywhere from a year to 18 months before the restaurant is ready to open.
"It's going to take a while to build this thing," he said.
But it's already well on its way, as the group has already secured a liquor license, and are expecting to hear back about a building permit application "any day now," he noted.
And although downtown New Bedford is already crowded with restaurants, Lanagan said new housing projects will bring in plenty of new customers and activity, just as current residents are coming out of what he called the "COVID haze."
"That's the critical mass that will drive all of the retail and restaurant businesses that are opening, or are presently open," he said. "So we think that there's plenty of room!"