Our Story

Buttermilk Channel

Buttermilk Channel is the mile-long tidal strait between Brooklyn and Governors Island. When the area was farmland, dairy farmers would cross by boat to sell their milk in Manhattan markets. Tidal currents in the channel were notoriously strong — strong enough, some said, to churn the milk into butter.

In another popular legend, one mentioned by Walt Whitman in his writing for The Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn farmers walked their cows across the channel at low tide to graze on Governors Island’s abundant grass.

Although Court Street seems pretty landlocked these days, the life of the neighborhood was once defined by the water, just a few blocks west. In the mid-19th century, the channel was dredged to accommodate the cargo ships that jammed New York’s ports after the opening of the Erie Canal. Red Hook shipyards remained the dominant industry in the neighborhood until the 1950s. Today, Buttermilk Channel remains a busy shipping lane, and is now home to the Queen Mary 2.

Doug Crowell: Owner

Doug is a native New Yorker and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He started out in the kitchen, working at Manhattan’s La Grenouille and Picholine, before moving into the dining room. Prior to opening Buttermilk Channel in 2008, Doug was the General Manager at Blue Water Grill in Union Square.

Jennifer Nelson: Managing Partner

Jennifer began her hospitality career at the legendary Cassidy’s, in Portland, OR. She spent years bouncing between Portland and Nantucket, where she developed a taste for Premier Cru Chablis and lobster rolls. In 2006, she opened the critically-acclaimed Sfoglia, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Jennifer has been at Buttermilk Channel since its opening.

Bruce Dillon: Executive Chef

Bruce was born and raised in Bear, Delaware, where he scored his first restaurant job as a dishwasher at his town diner. His talents shot him up the ranks to fry cook, and from there to culinary school and onto the New York scene. Bruce helmed the kitchen at Suba, an innovative and celebrated New York Times two-star Spanish restaurant, before arriving at Buttermilk Channel in our opening year. After ten years spent opening and running restaurants all over the city, Bruce returned to Buttermilk Channel in 2018.

Dear Friends,

Buttermilk Channel is closed for now, but we're working to reopen as soon as possible. In the meantime, we're offering our buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar waffles for sale by pre-order, along with a selection of sides, cocktails, beer and wine. Join our email list to stay posted, and follow us on Instagram for special announcements and happy memories. We look forward to serving you again soon.