There are customers and then there are Regulars.
The kitchen of the Greenpoint apartment that 28-year-old Mari de Monte shares with her cat, Nina Simone, just happens to look into the backyard of her favorite bar: Black Rabbit. She’s so big on the place, she has a tattoo of its logo on her arm.
De Monte — a hair stylist at Fleischman, A Men’s Salon in Midtown — first stumbled on the bar on the night that it opened, back when she was living in Jackson Heights and visiting a friend in the neighborhood. “Kent [Lanier], the owner, had a crazy mohawk,” she recalls, “and there were all these people that I kind of recognized because they were stand-up comedians.” She became a regular after she moved to Greenpoint six years ago, attracted by a small-town vibe that reminded her of her native Syracuse, NY.
“I moved to India Street with four crazy girls that I met on Craigslist. It was so intense: they were all from Ireland, and they were all nuts…I’d come home and all I’d want was some silence and to read; so I started coming here. I came here for four months without talking to anybody. I sat at the end of the bar, drank my whiskey, and read for like two hours.”
“One night, these two very, very drunk – I hate saying it – but Polish guys wouldn’t leave me alone… And Kent, who I’d never spoken to but obviously recognized me from coming in four times a week, basically said that I was his sister and stood up for me. And then they left me alone. Ever since then this place has been my go-to place.”
“Every Sunday, they used to have Bingo with Bobby Tisdale. Then he stopped doing it because he got a job writing for Jimmy Fallon. They asked me to [host Bingo] because I used to bring probably 30 people here every Sunday. I hosted for about a year. I just did it for free booze on Sunday.”
“Now I come here mostly when Dennis [the bartender] is working. Dennis is like my grumpy-old-men dad. He always yells at me when I need to be yelled at and recommends good books and calls me out on my garbage.”
“If I ever bring somebody who I’m dating around, he always either approves or disapproves of them. You know, my parents live five hours away, so usually when I need some perspective on things (career choices – I just recently changed salons – guy choices, whatever it is) Dennis always seems to have an opinion, even if I don’t ask for it. But I kind of love it.”
“On the weekdays I can decompress here. It’s kind of like, all day I feel like I’m the one taking care of people. I come here, and I’m the one being taken care of.”
About the tattoo: “My friend Chris and I were here one day, drunk, hanging out with Kent. We said to Kent, ‘What would you do if we got Black Rabbit tattoos?’ And Kent was like, ‘You serious? I don’t know, give you a dollar off whatever you drink for the rest of your life?’ And we were like, ‘That totally pays for the tattoo. We’re doing it.’ The next day, we brought the coasters with the logo on it to Three Kings Tattoo and were like, ‘We both want this. In the same place. On the same arm.’ I think Kent thought we were kidding. We, of course, came here immediately after. We were both still bleeding and bandaged up. It wasn’t until later we [realized] that we just got a tattoo of a bar logo. Thank God, it’s a good logo. And Kent was blown away. I think he even got a little weepy at one point.”
“It feels like more of a home to me than my hometown. Whenever I go to Syracuse, something’s different. Someone else had a baby. Someone got a divorce. Another business is shut down. Here it’s not that feeling. It’s not gonna last forever. But whenever I think, ‘What were your 20s like?’ I’m gonna say, ‘It was definitely hanging out at this bar all the time.’ That was definitely my 20s.”