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April 30, 2010

Last Call Looms at Freddy’s, in the Path of Atlantic Yards

The New York Times
by Kareem Fahim

Sometime next week, workers will start digging under the floor of a bar where a bartender known as Johnny Seatcovers poured an ocean’s worth of whisky, where police officers and anarchists alike shouted to be heard above the music, where young bands got their start and Blue Oyster Cult played a late-career gig.

For more than 70 years, the bar has stood at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.

By Sunday, the patrons will have to drink elsewhere, as workers begin to hunt for asbestos, prior to demolition, and within a few months, all traces of the bar that was called Freddy’s will be gone, brought down to make way for the Atlantic Yards development project.

At different times and depending on whom you ask, the bar now called Freddy’s was a neighborhood haven for working-class drinkers, the CBGB’s of Brooklyn or a fountainhead of activism, creativity and dissent. In a cigar box kept behind the bar, locals stashed their house keys, and the bartender would cash regulars’ checks, according to David Sheets, 49, Freddy’s resident historian, who worked at the bar for a few years in the late 1990s.

On Sunday afternoons, the old-timers argued about politics, and on holidays, the owner let Mr. Sheets cook five-course meals, the tables decorated with flowers from his backyard.

“This was an extension of my house,” said Mr. Sheets, who lived a few doors away, and has also been forced to move by Forest City Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards.


NoLandGrab: While all too happy to sentimentalize Freddy's now, The Times a) fails to disclose that it's the paper's development partner that's about to bulldoze the place, and b) that the paper has editorialized in favor of exactly that.

Related coverage...

The New York Times, Freddy's Bar & Backroom Slide Show

WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, Open Phones: Farewell To Freddy's

After 70 years, Freddy's Bar in Prospect Heights is closing -- a casualty of the Atlantic Yards project. Listeners call in with their toasts to the neighborhood institution.

Will you miss Freddy's? Post your salute to Freddy's (not your rant) here! Start it with "I'd like to propose a toast..."

Atlantic Yards Report, Freddy's final night, the lost "patina that the patrons created," and the music/voices of Pinamonti ("The Burrow") and RebelMart ("Brooklyn Is Dying")

For a long time, I wasn't much of a fan of Freddy's Bar & Backroom, which closes its Dean Street location tonight, having taken a settlement in the wake of eminent domain.

Until the mayor banned smoking in bars and restaurants, I wasn't a fan of any bars, actually; they were just too smoky. And I'm not a big bar-goer.

But a lot of people who live in walking distance have their own Freddy's story, and here's what I'll remember most: Freddy's is where I discovered John Pinamonti.


Today, patrons of Freddy’s Bar will raise their beers one last time. In the past few years Freddy’s has been the epicenter of the Atlantic Yards Barclay’s Center controversy.

NY Examiner, Fred's Bar to close in Prospect Heights on Friday, April 30

Oh, God, not Fred's, too!

Fred's Bar, a real loon of a good time jukebox and live musician drag is having its last day at its Atlantic Yards Location on Friday April 30, 2010.

New York Kills Me!, because it razes places that matter to people

A final fuck you Forest City, Atlantic Yards and, while we're at it, fuck you too Goldstein.

NLG: "Goldstein?" Surely they mean "Goldman Sachs" or "Marty Golden," since Freddy's would've likely been razed long ago if not for the efforts of Daniel Goldstein.

Kath and Alex in Brooklyn, Last Call at Freddy's

We hung out a lot at this Prohibition-era bar when we first moved to Brooklyn (some might say too much). Alex has played many gigs here in their Backroom. I gave him a surprise 30th birthday party there, and we regularly brought Cameron with us as we had a beer or two. We have so much personal history here, it's tragic to us that this wonderful old bar has fallen victim to a heinous abuse of eminent domain.

The L Magazine, Sad Things: Freddy's Bar to Serve its Last Beer on Friday

We knew it was coming, but still, every now and then you have Capra-esque dreams of the little guy pulling one out against the implacable greed of the big, rich dickhead. Not this time, though, as Freddy's Bar will be serving its last beer this Friday, before Bruce Ratner and his Atlantic Yards project comes in with the condos and what-not.

Posted by eric at April 30, 2010 1:29 PM