Downtown

The beloved Hank’s Saloon is closing for the second time in a year

"It’s sad that real estate beats music every time."

May 31, 2019 Raanan Geberer
The beloved bar is closing for the second time in a year. Photo courtesy of Hank's Saloon

After only five months in a new Downtown Brooklyn location, Hank’s Saloon, one of the most beloved bars in Brooklyn, will have to leave its home for the second time in two years.

The bar, which had to leave its longtime location on Atlantic and Third avenues after the building owner announced his decision to demolish that structure, moved into the second floor of Hill Country Food Park at 345 Adams St. in January.

Since Hank’s Saloon has a honky-tonk ambiance and the Hill Country chain focuses on barbeque and country music, it seemed like a perfect match. Just like Hill Country’s location on West 26th Street in Manhattan, Hank’s is well known for presenting live music, especially local bands.

The food park was itself a reincarnation of Hill Country’s original barbecue and chicken restaurant at the Adams Street location, which closed in 2017.

A statement on Hank’s Saloon’s Facebook page read, in part, “After five amazing months and working our asses off non-stop, Hill Country told us a few days ago that someone else will be taking their lease ASAP on the entire building on Adams Street, and that the people taking over don’t really have any interest in continuing to house Hank’s Saloon. So I am heartbroken to say that our doors will close in early June.

“In the short time we were on Adams Street, the bar did extremely well. We were rocking it with packed happy hours and fantastic rights of music, and had just started building a community in a neighborhood that we were told was going to be impossible to make work. Our numbers were high and our costs were low, we were doing great and it was taking off more day by day.”

The statement, which ended with the hope that Hank’s would find a new home once again, was signed “Julie,” presumably Julie Ipcar, owner since 2005.

Hill Country Founder and CEO Marc Glosserman said in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle that some of the businesses in the Food Park were “real hits,” but others “didn’t get the traction we were hoping for.”

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In general, he said, “Managing food halls with multiple third-party food offerings is not Hill Country’s core business, and closing Food Park was necessary in order to make way for a new operator who will be taking full control of the space.”

As far as Hank’s is concerned, Glosserman wrote, “Our friends at Hank’s have been great to work with, and we wish that we could have given them a permanent home. However, the new team coming in has a different vision for the space currently occupied by Hank’s.”

Ipcar, who added live music at the Atlantic Avenue location, took over Hank’s in 2005. A previous owner gave it the name Hank’s when he bought it in 2000. With its one-story building, open doors and motif of flames painted on the wall, the original Hank’s seemed like the very definition of a honky-tonk dive bar.

In 2016, Ryan Burleson of The New York Times described it as such: “The sofas are of uncertain vintage, the bathrooms are grimy, tangled string lights wind around pictures of the regulars who have passed away, and the mirror behind the bar is blanketed with tattered band stickers.”

Before it was Hank’s Tavern, it was known as the Doray Tavern and served as an unofficial hangout for Mohawk ironworkers who lived in Boerum Hill and worked on Manhattan’s skyscrapers. The Mohawk community lived in Boerum Hill during the week, then drove back to their reservation on the weekends.

Peter Levinson, a member of the Eephus Band, a local musical group, commented, “We played multiple times in Hank’s Saloon. One of the most welcoming venues in Brooklyn. It’s sad that real estate beats music every time.”

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