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An Ole Watering Hole Is Closing

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 18, 2019 21:14

2 users

The Old Carriage Inn, a 35 year old bar in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, closed down on St. Patrick's Day.

Businesses open and businesses close. That's life in the modern world.

I've documented some of the openings, re-openings and closings of New York City businesses both legendary and obscure for The Latest. These stories bring together finance and economics; cultural and consumer trends; owners and workers and customers. Some of these businesses are draws for people throughout the city and for tourists as well; others are mostly local and provide for their neighborhoods.

Such is the case with the closing of The Old Carriage Inn after 35 years. This gritty bar with an undercurrent of Irish-American ties, closed on the evening of St. Patrick's Day 2019. When I heard this I knew I wanted to stop by on the final night because I'd gone here a few times over the years. I'd sat for a drink or two with family and friends, and we watched baseball games. One time we were there during a karaoke session and at least once I heard live music, the musicians crammed together on the miniscule stage.

It was an unpretentious bar and a bit of a throwback compared to many of the hipper-than-thou establishments in Park Slope and other parts of "brownstone Brooklyn" (other neighborhoods have also been getting pricier.) By no means was I regular but I had a vague fondness for the bar. I also liked their shtick of setting up silly inflatable toys on the sidewalk for holidays.

The owners had scheduled the Carriage Inn to close on St. Patrick's Day, a day on which Brooklyn held two parades (the main one in Manhattan had been held the day before). 

It was a 15-minute drive from my house to the Old Carriage Inn, and I parked next door to it. I walked inside and the scene was casual, about 20 patrons surrounding the bar. No one said hi to me but that was okay because the cigarette smoke was strong, and I knew I'd be sticking around for just several minutes.

The pool table looked bizarre; the worn green felt had been graffitied with a marker, which lay not far from a broken pool cue which I twirled. Some parts of the walls also wore marker messages, farewells and thanks, and also angry commentary aimed at yuppies and hipsters in general. Outside a few guys chatted.

I was the somewhat nostalgic interloper, coming in to look and document, and not drink. I touched the pool table and thought about a Yankees baseball game I'd seen here, and then I walked outside and coughed from the smoke.

Later that evening my brother Ben asked me if I knew what would move into the Old Carriage Inn space, but I wasn't sure. Doubt it will be an old-school watering hole.

Places like this are fewer in number each year. Some people don't care and even look down at these establishments. But others miss them and relish them, even if they only stop by occasionally. Ahhh, nostalgia.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 18, 2019 21:14

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