It couldn’t have been a more perfect night for stopping into The Bad Old Days, or maybe there’s no better bar for a rainy night. Either way, immediately after walking into this brand new bar in Ridgewood I felt like I was in some kind of geothermal beer womb. Warmth radiates up from the wooden floorboards and out of the living room lamps, and half-curtains hug the tall windows, shielding boozers from the depressing weather outside. If you need a new winter bar, here’s a stellar contender.
There’s the option of sitting at the extensive wood bar amongst several dudes, chatting each other up like old neighbors who hadn’t quite had the opportunity to hang out yet, but had been looking forward to an excuse to do so. Alternatively, there’s the luxury of three leather couches, or maybe they’re vinyl– whatever your grandparents were more likely to have in the ’60s.
The fireplace definitely isn’t real, but its kitschy presence is welcome amongst the old TVs set to static and fishbowl, respectively and an assortment of trinkets. “We got them from Craigslist, also from an antique fair in Massachusetts,” explained Rina Haverly who co-owns the bar with her friend Sonja Lutnicki. Ground scores and moving gifts provided even more knickknacks. “But it’s also just from people bringing stuff to us,” Sonja pointed out. A wooden fish that sits on the mantelpiece came from a customer.
The clientele seems to have been built into the place. It helps that Rina and Sonja are industry vets, both having worked at bars all over the city for a combined number of decades and met as co-workers at Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side. Before they opened this place, Rina had a stint at nearby Queens Tavern where she met some locals. And during the build-out, they attracted a lot of attention from curious passerby and won a loyal fan base before the doors were even open.
“We found out we had really bad taste,” Sonja said. But they had some help from a contractor who helped design Rockwood. At first, they wanted a bar modeled after what Sonja described as “your weird uncle’s den,” but the contractor helped them come up with a more “elegant mid-century living room” feel. When the pair signed their lease back in January, after having what Sonja called “the fateful brunch” where they decided it was time to open a bar of their own, the place was totally raw. While the interior is newly renovated, it’s managed to maintain a throwback feel. “It’s new, but familiar,” Rina decided.
Both owners live in the neighborhood, just a short distance from the bar and it shows– the place really does have a neighborly feel. “It’s like an extension of everyone’s living room,” Rina explained. “It’s like hanging out in your own home.” She moved here as soon as she had the bar’s lease on lockdown. “I was looking for commute zero,” she said. Sonja said they were loving the neighborhood, though. “We’re pretty much never, ever moving now,” she said.
The understated design attracts people, too. “We wanted to keep it relatable,” Sonja said. The beer list is full of “recognizable beers” and a cocktail menu with the classics should be out by next week. “We’re trying to keep it quality over quantity,” Sonja conceded. Beers on draft range from $4 for a Narragansett to $6 for Sixpoint Bengali, Dale’s Pale Ale, and a Great South Bay Blood Orange Pale Ale. For now, they have one daily special cocktail and some seasonal drinks like brandy punch and Irish coffee, both for $8.
There’s a happy hour up and running Monday through Friday from 2 pm to 8pm that includes $4 drafts and $5 wells. The bar also has plans to serve food in the near future. “Chex mix, hummus and veggies, that kind of thing,” Rina explained. “And we’ll eventually roll out a slider menu.” The owners aren’t too crazy about having a packed schedule of events just yet, but they said a reading and poetry night is on the horizon. Makes sense, given the large selection of books around the bar. For now, The Bad Old Days is a solid choice for a straight-up bar to cozy up to for a few drinks and some takeout food from the outside. “We didn’t want to start out with too much information,” Sonja laughed.
The Bad Old Days is located at 1684 Woodbine in Ridgewood, open seven days a week hours are subject to change, but for now run from 2 pm to 2 am.