Stowaway (159 Greenpoint Avenue) is a new all-day cafe and bistro headed by chef and owner Clark Riley. The space opened in the former Adelina’s and brings a much-needed Southern influence to the North Brooklyn dining scene. Chef Riley, a native of North Carolina, has a deep and abiding love of both food and the neighborhood of Greenpoint itself. Greenpointers spoke with him about his new restaurant and what it was like to open in the middle of a pandemic.
I saw on your Instagram that you’ve been in Greenpoint for the past few years. What is it about the neighborhood that you find inspiring or creatively fulfilling?
I have been living in Greenpoint since 2014, on the avenue right in the heart of the neighborhood. Since my very first visit to Transmitter Park I have found the view from there to be endlessly inspiring. To sit on the rocks of the East River and look out into all the commotion across the river, to see the thriving city and all the possibilities, endless worlds intertwined, it has given me endless excitement and hope that anything is possible to achieve.
What was relieving for me, or fulfilling, is to realize Greenpoint’s quaintness and charms that mimic that of the small town beginnings I came from. Through [the] hospitality [industry] I’ve come to know so many wonderful people over the years and to know that I’m now in a space to cook, host, and welcome people to Greenpoint, that has been the most fulfilling feeling for me.
What was the process like of opening during a pandemic? How did you find this particular space?
Getting Stowaway open has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my life. It took a lot of blind faith from people to trust I would be able to get open. I live a few doors down from Stowaway. I was aware that Adelina’s had closed, so I cold-called the landlord until I was able to reach them and convince them to take a meeting with me. That person was Mrs. Rama, who kindly sat down with me over a few meetings, and we worked out what would be the beginnings of Stowaway. That was November 2020. No one knew what was in store for hospitality – that was blind faith. All the city offices were operating sporadically. And it took a lot of research to discover the proper steps to take towards opening.
Through the design phase I took another chance in contacting ‘Home-Studios’ a Greenpoint interior design firm I was familiar with from other restaurants they had done. They agreed to help me bring Stows’ vision to life. We did just that in early 2021, and I spent the next 6 months scouring every antique shop I could find for authentic elements, and furnishings. They are a top notch group, and I can’t thank them enough for their direction. Lastly I would like to acknowledge the Stowaway Crew. Almost everyone that works here I have worked with in the past, from places like Coco 68, to Littleneck Outpost. I contacted them out of the blue with this idea to open our own place and reunite; they put their faith in me in a strange unsure time. I’d like to thank them for that.
How would you describe the food at Stowaway, and what are some of your favorite dishes to cook?
Stowaway is a Southern cafe & bistro. The low country of the Carolinas is an area dear to me and the fabric of my being. To recreate this food is to carry on my memories of being raised there, as the years go by here in Greenpoint. We start the day baking fresh buttermilk biscuits from scratch, and we make our own sausage & bacon in house, as I did as a kid in the Carolinas. From fried okra pimento cheese, hushpuppies & fried chicken, to oysters, crab & shrimp of the coast, this is an eatery southern expats can relate to and hopefully all Greenpointers can discover & enjoy.
Anything else you’d like the community to know?
We are opening for a “Happy Hour at Closing” starting this weekend onward Friday, Sat, Sun from 5-7 pm offering $1 oysters, beer and wine specials, and other lite bites. We have plans to open in the spring with a full dinner menu.