Back in August, Diane’s opened at 425 Graham Avenue as a labor of love dedicated to the memory of the late Diane Langan-Kullmann (who you may also know as Diane O’Debra) by a group of her close friends and collaborators.
In the early aughts, Bebe Carl started working at Lucky Dog, where she met and learned to bartend from Langan-Kullmann (who at the time was just Diane Langan), and the rest, as they say, is history.
Diane was a firecracker often clad in a leopard-print coat with an infectious smile, killer sense of humor, and no shortage of creative ideas. When she wasn’t behind the bar at Lucky Dog (she’s probably served you if you’ve literally ever been), she was performing comedy, burlesque, and beyond as a regular fixture at the Bowery Poetry Club. Even after moving to Washington in 2018, her presence could be felt among her loved ones in Brooklyn, a fact that still remains long after her passing in September 2021.
For Carl — who also co-owns Rocka Rolla and George & Jack’s Tap Room — Diane’s is somewhat of a prophecy fulfillment, as she and Langan-Kullmann had always talked about opening a bar together. The bar itself is a collaboration between longtime industry friends turned real friends including Carl, Ginger Rivera, Maurice Johnson, Lesley Brown, Melissa Spalding, and Tony Ramsey. As a mostly-women-owned space, Carl describes the bar as “Joan Jett’s Barbie Dream House,” which it definitely delivers on in decor, drink selection, and just general vibe.
“We really wanted to bring back the familiar, know-your-regulars feel. I love having parties at my house, so I get to do that on a larger scale,” Carl explained. “You only get one chance to make a first impression and welcome everyone.”
And welcome everyone, they do. In fact, everyone who visits Diane’s is met with a
“welcome shot” before perusing the menu featuring their most popular cocktail, the Bird of Paradise (mezcal, Aperol, lime, simple syrup, spiced pineapple juice, and bitters), a Bloody Mary with garnishes from Emily’s Pork Store, The Diane (a shot of Jameson with a Coke back), and a rosé and tequila shot combo, to name a few.
Though you might not be able to tell from its unassuming exterior (though the sign does feature mermaid tails in honor of Langan-Kullmann’s reputation as “their mermaid”), Diane’s features a framed photo of its namesake welcoming you in, a carefully curated jukebox with all female artists and female-fronted bands (with call outs to favorite tracks), a self-portrait machine with a giant heart-shaped floral backdrop, themed bathrooms, a newly heated backyard, and a sprinkling of friendly regulars.
“The people who come here are sweethearts,” Johnson said. “A lot of times, the customers take care of us. People who come here, they know how to talk to each other, they know how to not be creepy.”
“When we were working on [Diane’s], my thought was always ‘As a woman, what kind of bar do you feel comfortable sitting alone at?'” Carl said about the choices that make it what it is.
Those choices weren’t without hesitation, as Carl admitted to being apprehensive about naming the bar after her beloved friend, but now recognizes it as something that helps her talk about her. And ultimately, with support from both the neighboring community and Diane’s family, the bar has become a space to honor her.
“Everyone we asked to work here was honored,” Maurice Johnson recalled. “They didn’t do it to work for me, they work to honor Diane.”