Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern is closing on February 28th following 60-plus years at 188 Bedford Ave. where it opened in 1955. The Williamsburg cash-only throwback to pre-luxury times is known for its affordable drinks, chummy bartenders and rockin’ jukebox. Rosemary’s closing was originally reported by Brooklyn Based.
The bar’s namesake, Rosemary Bleday, worked at the bar since her 20s after her family relocated the watering-hole from its original Green Street location in Greenpoint. Now at age 86, Bleday is seeking to move from her apartment above the bar after she is released from the hospital where she is being treated for a recent injury.
Gothamist spoke with her grandson Eric Carson who said that the demolition and development on both bordering parcels threaten the structural integrity of the wood frame building at 188 Bedford Avenue:
Carson says that the bar held out for a long time, even as they got offers left and right over time, and in recent years as the developer bought up the buildings beside Rosemary’s, which is located at 188 Bedford Avenue, near North 7th Street. In 2016, RedSky Capital bought the three-story, three-unit building next door, at 190 Bedford Avenue, for $13.2 million, as The Real Deal reports. In what the publication dubs a “nearly block-long assemblage,” the developers also purchased the building next to that, at 192 Bedford, as well as Rosemary’s other neighbors at 184-186 Bedford Avenue.
“Unfortunately in doing that—them knocking down two buildings on either side of us, being a wood frame building—according to an engineer report, puts us at serious risk for damage,” he says. “And my grandmother living up here wouldn’t be safe or conducive to running a business.”
There are no plans to reopen another Rosemary’s according to the family, who are seeking to go out in a spirit of celebration over the final three weeks.
The longest street in Brooklyn and the road that runs through the heart of Williamsburg is Bedford Avenue. The 10.19 mile-long street got its name from the village of Bedford, which was located roughly at the intersection of what is now Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street. There is some disagreement about Bedford. The village, which is so old that it was a focal point of the Revolutionary Wars’ Battle of Brooklyn could come from the English Duke of Bedford or it could refer to Dutch word bestevaar, meaning “the place where old men meet.”
Another street with an ancient history is Bushwick Avenue, which is the oldest street in all of Bushwick, dating back to the earliest Dutch occupation. Peter Stuyvesant named it on March 14, 1661. The name is generally said to mean “place of the woods.” The area was dense with forests, thickets, scrub oaks, logs and low land. British soldiers used a great deal of the wood for fuel, forever changing the area’s natural environment.
In 1792, Richard Woodhull, a real estate developer, whose name graces the local hospital, tried unsuccessfully to develop a settlement in Williamsburg. He created the numbered Streets (S. 5th to N. 3rd). When Richard Woodhull had the area surveyed in 1792 (he had purchased 12 acres), he simply gave the streets numbers for names, except for Grand Street. Woodhull also created a lane along the waterfront which he called “Water Street” and another East River street called “River Street” (now under water). Continue reading →
Back in 2008, an Australian-American restaurant/bar opened on Bedford with its primary claim to fame being that Heath Ledger (RIP) had been involved in its conception. Now, Five Leaves is closing in on nine years in the neighborhood and is still one of the most popular spots around. It’s burger and pancakes are institutions on the New York dining scene and that weekend brunch wait hasn’t gotten any shorter. This doesn’t mean that they want to rest on their laurels though. If you’ve stopped by this year, you may have noticed both the food and cocktail menus changing ever so slightly towards a little more seasonality. They’re definitely giving the locals a good reason to stop by for dinner.
Five Leaves did always have a seasonal and organic angle to their menu, but when Chef Warren Baird took the helm in the kitchen towards the end of 2015, he knew it was time to step up their game a little bit. The local and sustainable movement has grown a lot in the past few years. Now, producers and consumers are more aware of our food systems’ environmental impact. But, luckily, consumers are also more willing to trust a chef when presented with unique dishes, like blue catfish done up Szechuan-style. Continue reading →
Back in 2003, Bedford Cheese Shop opened its doors in the small mini mall in Williamsburg. The tiny shop was one of the first in the neighborhood to offer specialty cheeses, charcuterie, and packaged foodstuffs. In 2006, the owner Charlotte Kamin moved all the beautiful cheeses to the corner space on Bedford Avenue and North 4th Street. But the space was small, and you often felt a little cramped if more than a handful of customers were in the store. When it came time to renew their lease, she began looking around for a bigger space. Luckily, a larger space opened up just down the avenue at 265 Bedford and the whole shop moved three blocks to its new home last August.
And with everything all settled in, it’s time to really invite the neighbors in for drinks and nibbles. Starting last week, the new Bedford Cheese began weekly themed tastings, and this week, they’ll begin serving their cafe menu. Continue reading →
It wasn’t that shocking when Nights & Weekends closed in early March. The bar had always been the “cool” spot while occupying the triangle space of the Bedford/Nassau/Lorimer/McCarren intersection. But the crew parted ways with the owners of Five Leaves back in November, and it was destined to become something else. Thankfully, it wasn’t closed for long. One speedy renovation later, it’s now open as One Bedford. Not only is the interior redesigned, the restaurant now has a whole new day-long menu. Continue reading →
“NEW FRIED CHICKEN JOINT ON MY BLOCK” read the text message accompanying a selfie of my friend in front of a pretty-in-pink menu posted in the window of 14 Bedford Avenue. Since that mid-December text, the opening of the new Five Leaves neighbor, Pretty Southern, was on my radar. A few weeks ago, also accompanied by my informant and two of our friends whose culinary opinions we highly value, I dug into that eagerly anticipated “healthful take on fried chicken and celebrated southern comfort fare.” Continue reading →
Going into ice cream actually started as a joke for David Yoo. After beginning a career in fashion and advertising, he decided in 2012 that it was time for a change. A few jokes later, he came to the realization that “ice cream is like blank canvas” ready for creative interpretations, and getting into the ice cream business might allow for the real hands-on creative hijinks he was searching for. So he enrolled in the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course, Class of 2013; gave his job a six-month notice; and by Friday, September 13th, Davey’s Ice Cream was open in the East Village. Late last summer, Davey’s brought their ice cream across the river to Bedford Avenue. Continue reading →
There is a gem of a gallery tucked away on the second floor of a quiet, four-story brownstone on 168 North 6th Street in Williamsburg, just off busy Bedford Avenue: Figureworks. And, inside this gallery right now, there is an exhibition of watercolors, drawings, and sculptures that is entirely “void of color.” The effect is transporting in such a way that the gallery seems like a separate world entirely, removed from the cityscape outside and, thus, a perfect respite for those in pursuit of silence and inspiration. Greenpointers recently caught up with gallery Director Randall Harris to discuss this exhibition, “Without/Color” (Part 1). Continue reading →
Brooklyn Woodwind and Brass is the only shop in Brooklyn that sells and repairs jazz players’ instruments.
The owner, Eric Downs, 42, opened his niche business about a year ago. He sells saxophones, flutes, trumpets and other instruments. He said the shop has been profitable since the first 30 days of operation.
“There is no competition,” he said. Located on Bedford, the Brooklyn Woodwind and Brass serves professional musicians and all the high schools in the area.
He said he was confident about launching a startup during the economic downturn. Downs is a professional saxophone player. He said it gives him an advantage because most craftsmen who work on music instruments are not.
He saved to open his shop in Greenpoint for 10 years. The rent security deposit was $20,000. Downs said he still needs time for a payback. In terms of payroll and balance sheets, he hopes to recover his initial investments in the shop in one or two years. His business is yet in transition stage. “I am nearly at the point to start hiring people,” said Downs.
He said he was lucky to get a commercial lease in Greenpoint. In New York City, in general, there’s a fight for a good place to rent. The landlord is in the restaurant business so he didn’t consider Downs a competitor. There’s no possible way to try to open a restaurant in this area, – said Downs. “A usual lifespan of a new restaurant in New York is six to nine months,” he said, “Competition is ridiculous.”
Blue ocean strategy worked perfectly for Downs. In case you are a businessman planning to launch a start-up in Greenpoint, here’s a bunch of helpful resources.
The Greenpoint Business Alliance (GBA) is an association of merchants, businesses, property owners and community organizations of the neighborhood. Its mission is to support the economic development through collaboration of businesses within the 11222 zip code.
If you have not yet come up with your business idea, a local blog could inspire you to bring the neighborhood something everybody is longing for.
The New York Times offers an efficient tool to find recent real-estate prices in Greenpoint. Another helpful website mns.com has recent rent statistics.
Finally, a good way to save up is to explore the waterfront area. Developments there are eligible for a 25-year tax exemption if 20% of the on-site units are provided for low-income households or 25 percent of the on-site units are provided for low and moderate households, New York City Greenpoint-Williamsburg inclusionary housing program reports.
Are you planning to launch a start-up in Greenpoint? Why do you think it’s the right or wrong time?