Brooklyn Boro

We asked, you answered: The best and worst openings and closings of 2019

Readers told us which Brooklyn restaurants they'll miss the most in 2020 and those they're looking forward to.

December 30, 2019 Cambria Roth

When we rounded up our favorite Brooklyn diners this past November, we wanted to know what your favorites were. To our surprise, many readers ended up mourning the lost diners of yore.

That gave us an idea: Why not find out which restaurants closed this year that you’ll miss most? And what opened that you’re excited about?

If you’re in the mood to reminisce — and find some newer neighborhood haunts that are a must — then take a scroll through our reader’s picks for best openings and worst closings of the year.

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Park Slope

Closings:

Rose Water

Casey from Facebook said, “Rose Water closing was a huge shock to me. I took my then girlfriend (now wife) there for dinner for the first birthday of hers we celebrated as a couple.”

Gristmill

Farm-to-table restaurant Gristmill opened in 2016 to wide acclaim from foodies and the The New York Times, but as Jennifer on Facebook pointed out, it closed its doors in May of this year.

Hugo and Sons

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Known for its affordable prices and Italian and French classics, the restaurant “disappeared without a trace!” according to Jennifer from Instagram. 

Openings:

Haenyeo

While Hugo and Sons may be gone, Jennifer pointed out that new restaurant Haenyeo opened early this year. And if you’re wondering what to try, Grubstreet recommends the rice cakes fundido dish.

Gowanus

Closings:

Two Toms

More than three people pointed to the closing of Italian restaurant Two Toms as this year’s biggest loss. The neighborhood staple was known for serving police officers, firefighters and countless others for more than 70 years.

Openings:

Claro

One reader pointed to Oaxacan-inspired restaurant Claro as a bright spot in the wake of Two Toms closing. It turns out Claro actually opened in 2018, but you might as well give it a try.

Downtown Brooklyn

Closings:

La Defense Bistro 

On Facebook, Patricia said the French restaurant was “a sweet little spot. Always a good meal, and they had live Gypsy Jazz music during summer brunches with outdoor seating and water bowls for doggos.”

Bay Ridge

A sign on the facade of the old Circles restaurant on Third Avenue says the space is for rent. Photo: John Alexander/Brooklyn Eagle

Closings:

Circles Cafe and Grill

The beloved bistro first opened its doors in 1976 and shuttered this past July. A real estate broker whose company listed the property told the Brooklyn Reporter, “One of their chefs died this past year and they decided to close the business.” On Facebook, Steven simply wrote about the restaurant, “Comfort food.”

Casa Pepe

Another big loss for Bay Ridge? Casa Pepe shut down after nearly four decades of serving up authentic Spanish cuisine. Stephen wrote on Facebook, “I don’t bat an eye for some of the hundreds of start-ups that don’t survive, it’s a tough biz. But every old stalwart that falls, a bit of old Brooklyn dies.”

Openings

Sancho’s Restaurant

Photo: Jaime DeJesus/Brooklyn Eagle

In October 2018, the owner of Sancho’s retired after 30 years in business. This October, new owners opened the Spanish restaurant under the same name and menu, according to Brooklyn Eagle reader Dale.

Carroll Gardens

Closings

Milkmade

Reader Francine already misses the ice cream at Milkmade. What started as a subscription ice cream service and evolved into a storefront in Carroll Gardens, serving 16 flavors. But after five years, they closed up shop in November.

Smith Canteen

Neighborhood coffee shop Smith Canteen closed back in June, Dan told us on Instagram. In 2011, owner Kerry Diamond turned the abandoned building — which had housed a pharmacy — into the popular coffee spot. Efforts to find a potential buyer for the shop didn’t pan out.

Openings

Sociale

Back in February, Sociale closed in Brooklyn Heights with the intention to relocate to 320 Court Street in Carroll Gardens, and this summer it became a reality.

Williamsburg

Closings

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern

This one was a real heartbreaker for many of our readers — sad face emojis and all. The hole-in-the-wall, which sat unchanged for many decades, succumbed to gentrification after a 66-year run back in February.

Mugs Alehouse

Another community staple, Mugs, also closed in June after 26 years of business. The owners cited the changing neighborhood as part of the reason.

Greenpoint

Closings

Enid’s

To round out the list of bars lost by gentrification, multiple readers pointed out Enid’s closing in March. Co-owner told Bedford + Bowery it was simply “time to move on.”

Rzeszowska Bakery

The home of the “best paczki,” according to Tomas on Instagram, the Polish bakery closed this July after 34 years in business.


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1 Comment

  1. Mike Suko

    Surprised to see Brooklyn Heights absent from this wrap-up. Teresa’s “official” last day may be 1/5/2020, but its “closing notice” went up in Summer ’19. Many Heights residents will miss it, and it puts into context an awful lot of the toing-and-froing you itemize. “Teresa” owns the building and is asking $18K/month for rent to the next (dollars-to-donuts it’s an eatery) tenant. I’m sure there are a hundred potential operators who could turn a decent profit even with that nut, but there aren’t thousands – as there might have been 3 years ago – and the always iffy odds facing a new restaurant in an “imperfect” space “approach zero” if you do the math. As for “perfect spaces” (or close), the wrap-up has a glaring omission in terms of Time Out’s space in Dumbo. Not a personal favorite, but 100,000 diners any given Saturday can’t all be as dumb as those who used to queue up at Patsy’s Pizza.