Watching Williamsburg in Brooklyn NY Gentrify From Behind Its Oldest Bar
March 8, 2015 10:11 AM   Subscribe

When Kirby came to the neighborhood in 1979 she was a community organizer trying to save buildings from abandonment or neglect. Part of her job was begging businesses to re-occupy the empty storefronts along Bedford Avenue, where Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks now pay premium rents. At the end of a long day, Teddy's was her local bar. When dinner time rolled around, Mary and Teddy would lock the door and say, "Watch the place." They'd be back in ten minutes with white bread and bologna for sandwiches.
posted by josher71 (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
When I was a wee lad my mom would take me there while she hung out with her friends. I stood on a milk crate and played pinball, and inhaled more second hand smoke than a four year old should have ever been exposed to. Those were the good old days!
posted by Bizarro Jerry at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been going to Teddy's for literally about 25 years - it's just a few blocks away from where I'm sitting. Happy for them and for what I hope is going to be a smooth transition to the new ownership...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


"It was a radical decision," she said. "A beer no one had heard of and a beer from Brooklyn. But we did it and it was their first tap in the world."

Holy shit, I had no idea!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:33 AM on March 8, 2015


On one hand, it looks like a successful transition from scuzzy dive bar to upscale joint. On the other hand, a lot of people are going to be nostalgic for the scuzzy dive bar era, especially when the drink prices get jacked upwards.
posted by Renoroc at 11:53 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"First people came because they heard how cool and hip and character-filled Brooklyn was, and there was music and art and happenings," she said. "Now they're coming because it's luxurious. And some of that aspiration to just have luxury and coolness, without the grit, without the real people that made the scene produces a certain sterility. You kill the goose that laid the golden egg."

That's a good description of what happened to San Francisco, downtown LA, Silver Lake (LA), & probably several places I'm not familiar with.
posted by univac at 11:58 AM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I drank a lot of beer at Teddy's : stared at the stained glass "Peter Dolger's Extra beer" for a total of, probably, days. Never understood. I preferred the Ship's mast, myself, but Teddy's was a good place, Felice is a real force for good. I hope the new owners do right by it.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:06 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


probably several places I'm not familiar with.

The irony is closer at hand, as the reference is surely to the usual description of how lower Manhattan lost its authenticity.
posted by spitbull at 12:21 PM on March 8, 2015


man, teddy's was a staple for the 13 years i lived there. there are still a few places that when i go back can make me feel at least a little like i'm home again, i hope this remains one of them.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 3:17 PM on March 8, 2015


Teddy's was the first place in NYC that I ever had a meal, probably back in 1997 or something, after driving hours and hours to get there from NC. I think what I ordered was a giant plate of nachos at 11am & horchata w/ rum in it.
posted by activitystory at 3:31 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved the original Ship's Mast. For years, the place was still there but closed up - there's a sad story about what happened but I'd not feel right in retelling it. They tried to make a go of it in some other locations but it never took off... not sure what happened to John and Nora.

Teddy's still has the horchata and rum, too.

> a lot of people are going to be nostalgic for the scuzzy dive bar era

Teddy's was never really a "dive bar" though. Mars Bar was a dive bar - as in "covered in graffiti and doing coke in the stalls sort of thing. The Polish Bars with the lock-ins in the East Village were dive bars. Teddy's was a neighborhood bar - good natured, but I'm sure they'd throw you out for having sex in the corner.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Teddy's was never really a "dive bar" though. ... Teddy's was a neighborhood bar

Over about the last three years I've been increasingly hearing people describe as "dive bars" what I'd call a "neighborhood bar," similar to your description of Teddy's. I'm not sure if it is a genuine linguistic shift or just people who know the term but have never been into an actual dive bar.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:18 PM on March 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Teddy's was always a breakfast bar for me. Loved snagging an outdoor seat and wasting a lazy morning away drinking Bloody Marys. Funny, my wife just mentioned today that my father in law's wife remarked about how good my Bloody Marys were and I told her I've been trying in vain for years to get even close to that Teddy's recipe. Teddy's was the first thing I liked and is the only thing I miss about Williamsburg, probably because it's the last thing left about the place that is authentic Brooklyn. What a mess it's become.
posted by any major dude at 8:45 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure neighborhood bars have been called "dive bars" in the United States for a long time. There are certainly sub-classifications, but the basic sign of a dive bar is that its primary clientele are locals (since there's no real draw beyond location and the familiarity bred by alcohol).
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


just people who know the term but have never been into an actual dive bar.

this
posted by thelonius at 11:01 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fantastic read. Thanks for the post.
posted by GiveUpNed at 4:19 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


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