might find it hard to believe that anything good can happen bar-wise. But this
month in Park Slope they would be wrong, because Freddy’s is coming back to
life Feb. 4.
Yes, that Freddy’s, the brave little dive bar in Prospect
Heights that stood up to the wrecking ball of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards
development ambitions and lost in 2010. The old bar disappeared last May after
a seven-year-long fight that gathered artists, musicians, politicos, activists,
locals, Freddy’s groupies and good old-fashioned drunks in a united front
against eminent domain and The Man.
But the spirit of Freddy’s
stayed alive, and the bar is reopening at a new location at 627 5th Ave. That
stretch of the avenue now provides prime territory for a proper pub crawl, as
Freddy’s joins neighbors including Black Horse Pub, Buttermilk Bar, Sidecar Bar
& Grille and its next door neighbor South.
“It’s Freddy’s rebooted,”
says Matt Kuhn, who owns the new bar along with Donald O’Finn and Matt Kimmett.
All three have a history of managing and bartending Freddy’s going back over a
decade when the joint was a cop bar at its original location across the street
from the 78th Precinct. When previous owner Frank Yost got his Ratner payoff
and then backed out of financing the 5th Avenue location, the new owners
scrambled to do all the work that needed doing along with a Freddy’s-friendly
community of artists, carpenters, designers and crafts people.
“It’s Freddy’s on
steroids,” says O’Finn. “Everybody wants it to be the same Freddy’s. They
think, ‘Oh, you’ve got another space. Good. Now you can just move everything
from the old space to the new space.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, no, that’s not the
way it’s going to happen. This is going to be so much better.’ Now the inmates
run the asylum.”
The old bar’s booths and
tables survived their journey south along with the Prohibition Era red mahogany
bar, “Chains of Justice” still attached in memory of protest rallies. But now,
the music room is new, the bathrooms are new (the women’s room, with art by
Nancy Drew and Lisanne McTernan, has to be seen to be believed), and the
kitchen is new.
Yes, a kitchen. Pub grub is
coming to Freddy’s. Kuhn, a former line cook, is taking charge of the menu and
has plans to serve burger-and-fries basics, Tex-Mex, a vegetarian option or two
and kielbasa sausage in honor of the neighborhood’s Polish roots.
The notably richer décor
includes antique Hollywood Regency chandeliers, erotic wallpaper by Drew and
permanent art installations by Steve Pauley. On opening night, an exhibition of
glitter and flock paintings by Drew will also be on display. Plus, regulars
will be happy to see that O’Finn’s video art—the video art that grows
progressively mesmerizing in relation to the number of drinks consumed—survived
Freddy’s Bar and Back Room,
627 5th Ave. (betw. Prospect Ave. & 18th St.), Brooklyn, 718-768-8131.