It’s been just a little over a week since the Continental revealed that it would close and now another scrappy holdover has announced that it’s not long for this world. Hank’s Saloon, the live-music dive in Boerum Hill, will close at the end of next year to make way for redevelopment, according to a Facebook post.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before we got the news that we would have to close Hank’s and move along,” writes owner Julie Ipcar, “but surprisingly enough, the new landlord/developer was kind enough to let us remain open for the community and music scene for the past five years, and keep that corner lit until he was ready to build. Alas my friends, it seems that time has come — the developer is ready to build, plans will be filed, and Hank’s Saloon will have to close at the end of next year.”
The news is sad, but not surprising. In 2008, developer R&E Brooklyn sought to build a seven-story building on the site of the bar’s squat, flame-kissed structure on the corner of Atlantic and Third Avenues. The community board nixed that, and Hank’s renewed its lease. Still, when Eater interviewed longtime bartender Jeannie Talierco in 2013, it reported that the building was expected to be demolished within a couple of years.
Throughout it all, Hank’s has remained a trusty, musty standby for cheap drinks as well as often-free live country, rockabilly, and rock. Band stickers are plastered behind the bar and the stage has been graced by everyone from GG Allin’s brother Merle to Roger Clark of NY1; in 2004, New York declared Hank’s the city’s Best Country Music destination, thanks to its Sunday-night parties with Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers, which continue to this day. Hank’s is a perennial favorite on Best Of lists. When Grub Street paid homage to “The Survivors: New York’s Enduring Dive Bars,” author Robert Simonson described it as “a dark corner spot where bands perform most nights on a matchbox stage at the end of the bar. The crowd is a surprisingly refreshing mix of young and old, hipsters and barflies.”
Simonson noted that before it was Hank’s, the building was home to the Doray Tavern, where regulars included the ironworkers of the nearby Caughnewaga Indian community. In her note, Ipcar said she used to drink at the Doray herself. “It deeply saddens me that one of the last NYC bars of this kind will no longer exist,” she wrote. “These places are extremely special to New York and add genuine heart and soul to the community.”