“We loved the idea of a beautiful, historic bar, where there was nothing fussy about the service or environment,” Tompkins says. “For a long time, high-end cocktails went hand in hand with fancy environments, and that has changed. You’d never think twice about walking in [here] in jeans and a sweatshirt.”
Sometimes -- good intentions be damned -- those historic dive bars have to shutter. That was the case of Hank’s Saloon, also in Brooklyn. Formerly known as Doray’s Tavern where the Mohawk ironworkers who built the Empire State Building used to drink, the bar eventually became a local-music hot spot, and, as Brooklyn gentrified, one of the last gritty bars in Boerum Hill. It fell into the hands of owner Julie Ipcar in 2005, and even then, the threat of the bar developing into luxury condos loomed. Because of that, few repairs were undertaken by the building’s landlord, causing health-code violations to pile up. Finally, when his condo plans were secured, the landlord asked Ipcar to pick a closing date for Hank’s at the end of 2018. She chose December 28.
The neighborhood was only without Hank’s for a few weeks though, as Ipcar was approached by Hill Country Barbecue about moving Hank’s to the second floor of their food hall. She seized the opportunity, keeping the staff the same (including the notorious Jeannie Talierco, a bartender who worked at Doray’s and Hank’s for more than two decades) and the prices similar. They distressed the wood floors, brought over their own “crappy” stools, and as much signage as they could save from “old” Hank’s. It opened earlier this year.