The debut book from Joshua D. Fischer – and the first to come from Bedford + Bowery – is called Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love. To get you psyched for this hardcover collection of photos and interviews (out in May from Skyhorse Publishing), here’s another new installment of the series.
“Whenever you have a good fried chicken plate, you’re kind of giving a shoutout to blackness,” says writer Kashana Cauley. As a regular, she definitely believes The Commodore, in Williamsburg, rocks good fried chicken. And she should know: her grandparents are from the South and made a mean fried chicken and biscuits. As we get our fingers greasy on all this fried goodness, the Madison, Wisconsin native praises Brooklyn as well. “It’s the blackest place I’ve ever lived,” she says. “I love that. Just walking down the street and being another black woman. I never had that.”
If you can believe it, the hipster hangout is more diverse than the options Kashana had growing up. When she arrived in New York in 2003 for law school at Columbia, she became an antitrust lawyer, but she was “one of those lawyers always working on a manuscript.” After five years, she was out. Nowadays, the 35-year-old lives in Propsect Park and works primarily as a fiction writer, though lately she publishes more nonfiction work with places like The Atlantic and Buzzfeed.
With its weathered and kitschy postcards hanging above the bar and its dim lighting, Kashana feels The Commodore has a very LA noir vibe. She often comes here with her husband (who works as an actuary) and her two-year-old son. “There’s one server who really likes my son because he has the same name as the first guy she ever hooked up with,” she explains. “And my son’s a big flirt.” As the Tom Cruise/Paul Newman classic The Color of Money played on the tiny corner TV, and customers sipped on a variety of colorful, boozy frozen drinks, Kashana detailed her love for this “really good dive bar.”
Fried chicken has been getting kind of hipster-ized. In the East Village, I’ve seen $18 fried chicken places open left and right. Here, it’s more expensive than Popeye’s, but it’s fine because it’s good chicken.
The biscuits are good. And biscuits are never good. I make my own biscuits all the time, and I love these.
With the sun blazing outside, it’s totally dark in here. It felt like an old-school, beaten up, LA bar.
We spend a lot of time trying to entertain my son between when we order our food and when it gets there. One day we discovered the pinball machine in the corner. The first time, we got it to work, and he happily played pinball for a half hour. The next time, it was broken, but my son realized he could put a quarter in the quarter machine and it’d come back to him. So, he did that for an hour. Everyone in the back of the bar figured out what was going on and was laughing at this two-year-old getting a quarter back from a machine and not even playing pinball. We laughed with 12 people for an hour. It was great.
It feels like a really good dive bar, like if a dive bar was superlative. Basically, the food’s too good, and the drinks are too imaginative and good for a dive bar.
I like the movies they play on the TV without sound. They really seem to fit. They all seem dark, noir-ish. They’re shot the way the bar looks. I’ll see a scene and think it fits the atmosphere they’re trying to create here.
I’ll have casual conversations with non-black people and be shocked at the extent that they haven’t necessarily engaged with blackness. It’s more important than it may seem like it is: Black people have a lot to do with our culture and entertainment. We have a black president. The issues behind Black Lives Matter have affected a great deal of people. I feel very strong about it – especially having the chance to live in Brooklyn in a place where I can be comfortably black. I feel like it’s a time for me to dig into what it means for myself and others.
I like fried chicken, and I associate it with blackness. I grew up on it, and I know other black people who have. It was always part of my family’s story. It was part of why we were Southerners and how we manifested that as black people.
Every time I go back to Madison, everyone stares at me. I’ll be walking downtown, and everyone will be like, ‘Why are you here?’ At home, blackness was always pointed out to me as a weird thing. Now I get to just be a black Brooklynite. There are Brooklynites of all stripes. It’s so nice.
I don’t think it’s entirely a white hipster bar. I like that everyone’s coming here, enjoying chicken. In summer, it’s awesome to see everyone ordering frozen drinks. It’ll be 90 outside. And we’ll be ordering these hardcore drinks in a dark bar.