627 5th Ave, Brooklyn (Between 17th and 18th Streets)
Visited 11pm on a Saturday, day after public opening
Freddy’s is alive!
One night after Freddy’s officially reopened two miles from their long occupied space now in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project, the bar managed to retain their trademark energy with their familiar activist-minded crowd and happily dancing bartenders.
Those who frequented their old location will quickly notice the roomy new digs. More space between the bar and the booths, behind the bar for the bartenders, in the back for the tables, even bigger bathrooms (with more space on the walls for sharpie messages). Bigger bar means more taps, and Freddy’s complied by increasing the number from 5 to 12, and bringing in newbies Fuller’s, Smuttynose, and Sixpoint, while keeping staples Bud, Sierra Nevada, and Guinness. On the other hand, the already small backroom was even smaller, but that should only make for louder and sweatier concerts back there.
But other than the space, much of new Freddy’s is so familiar it’s eerie. The booths and tables made the trip, as did the bar (with the chains of justice) and the swiveling wood barstools with back/arm rests. Eclectic art still adorns the place and a TV playing the videos that always seem to go with Freddy’s music. $3 Miller High Life bottles and PBR cans, $4 Buds and Bud lights, and $5-6 imports and whiskey mean the new location doesn’t mean new prices. And though Brooklyn Dodgers hats were spotted, Brooklyn Brewery brews remain unwelcome.
It’s unique to visit a bar where the bartenders are so happy to be back they often forgot drink prices and the regulars so happy to be drinking that they forgot Freddy’s cash only. Almost nothing could dampen the mood and take the smiles off everyone’s faces, except the brief look of disappointment when they noticed longtime manager and now co-owner Donald O’Finn was taking a much deserved day off. But knowing that Donald will be back behind the bar and that the spirit of Freddy’s was back quickly put smiles back on everyone’s faces.
(photo via WNYC’s Abbie Fentress Swanson)