Sections

Want to buy Hank’s bar? It’s being auctioned tomorrow

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One of the last real dives in Brownstone Brooklyn will be sold at a foreclosure auction on Thursday — and regulars are crying in their beer.

The century-old Hank’s Saloon at the corner of Third and Atlantic avenues — originally a hangout for Native American high-steel workers and now a honky-tonk roadhouse — will be sold with two other buildings, fueling fears that its new owners will raze the bar to make way for condos.

“They’re trying to put the old lady out to pasture,” said barkeep John Brien, a 47-year-old Irishman who’s owned the bar for seven years. “If it’s sold, I’m done.”

This isn’t the first time that Hank’s has been in danger.

In 2007, the building’s current owners, Emily Fisher and Rolf Grimsted, announced plans for a seven-story condo over Hank’s, but Community Board 2 blocked the plans, citing Boerum Hill’s residential zoning regulations.

A year later, the couple defaulted on their mortgage — which covers the bar at 46 Third Ave., an adjacent lot, and 514 Atlantic Ave., a three-story building with a storefront and apartments. They paid about $2 million for the properties a decade ago, but they began missing payments in 2008 and racked up another $2 million in interest.

Grimsted said that everything went haywire when his original loan servicer, Park Avenue Bank, was shut down by the federal government last year. He contends that Valley National Bank took over his mortgage, inflated the property values, and wouldn’t allow him to refinance.

“I’m heartbroken,” Grimsted said. “I live in this community — it isn’t like I’m coming in and flipping properties, We tried everything we could to cut the banks a deal, but they would not cut down on our loan.”

Now the bank, which foreclosed on the buildings this year, will put them up for auction. Bank representatives would not disclose the starting bid.

Brien said he’ll attend the auction himself to see if he could buy his building, though more realistically, he’s looking for a new place to move the bar.

“We’ve had some great nights here,” he said, “and we’ll have some more before we go. But it’ll be a bad day when it closes.”

Before Hank’s was a place for hard drinkers, it was called Doray Tavern — a hangout for Mohawk Indian ironworkers with the motto, “Where Good Friends Meet.”

For many regulars, the adage still rings true.

“This is my bar,” said Joe Shimkus, 64, who was a bartender at Doray for 20 years. “You walk in here and you’re part of the family.”

The corner watering hole, painted black with orange flames, is also a coveted stage for rockabilly, country and international bands. Even Norah Jones and Ween have taken the stage.

Hank’s foreclosure auction at Brooklyn Supreme Courthouse [360 Adams St. between Joralemon and Johnson streets, (718) 675-7699], July 28, 3 pm.

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Reader Feedback

Rich from Fort Greene says:
Strange. OK, so Grimsted's plans for a condo were blocked by the CB, but after it was rejected, why not try a scaled down alternative and make something out of the investment instead of just throwing in the towel? And while the area didn't particularly need another set of soulless condos going at a half mil a clip, at least they were being proposed by a local who even wanted to keep the bar going. What does that same Community Board do with those precious zoning restrictions when eminent domain comes a' callin? Nothing.

Hank's is generally considered (by friends and foes alike) to be a "dive" - but at least it charged "dive" prices. All of the other bars in the area are way overpriced.
July 27, 2011, 10:08 am
Sam from LES says:
Brooklyn vs. not Brooklyn http://artisanalcheesewhiz.blogspot.com/2011/07/brooklyn-not-brooklyn.html
July 27, 2011, 12:04 pm
Hank from Hank's says:
There’s a tear in my beer
’cause I’m cryin’ for you,
Dear you are on my lonely mind.
Into these last nine beers
I have shed a million tears.
You are on my lonely mind
I’m gonna keep on sittin’ here
Until I’m petriified.
And then maybe these tears
Will leave my eyes.
There’s a tear in my beer
’cause I’m crying’ for you, dear
You are on my lonely mind.
July 27, 2011, 12:24 pm
Robert from Park Slope says:
30yrs ago when I was iron-working, I sometimes used to drop off some of native american co-workers at that bar on my way home from work. It was a dive then too, I'm not saying that in a bad way.
July 27, 2011, 2:02 pm
Robert Perris from Community Board 2 says:
When Community Board 2 held its public hearing on the zoning variance sought for this property, several local organizations testified that the Atlantic Avenue Subistrict zoning (not "Boerum Hill’s residential zoning regulations") should not be over-ridden. The community board based its recommendation to the Board of Standards and Appeals on that testimony.

The only land use application I can recall coming before Community Board 2 that included eminent domain is the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan, which the community board did not vote in favor of.
July 27, 2011, 3:04 pm
Lori says:
It's always sad to see a home town landmark torn down. I'm sure there are many good memories in that plave.
July 27, 2011, 5:39 pm
Lois from Bklyn Hts says:
Get Norah Jones to buy the building. She already bought a brownstone on Amity Street.
July 27, 2011, 5:52 pm
Lori from Bklyn Hts says:
Where is the auction? Is it at Borough Hall?
July 27, 2011, 5:54 pm
Ms. Al from BROOKLYN says:
Say goodbye to everything that once made brooklyn, Brooklyn! This is sad.
July 27, 2011, 10:21 pm
Mary from The Hook says:
Another old place going down. Please lets never forget these places, at least for our next generation.
July 27, 2011, 11:23 pm
Rich from Fort Greene says:
So, was it sold? And what will it be: A Starbucks, radiology office, or a couple of nail salons?
July 29, 2011, 8:33 am
Elaine from Marine park says:
My parents Dot and Ray owned the Doray Tavern and that place made alot of people very happy.
I have a heavy heart hearing the place is up for auction
Sept. 15, 2011, 8:56 pm
Elaine from Marine Park says:
Auction at a standstill for now??
Seems to me someone screwed up if the judge put a stop to shutting it down?
Sept. 26, 2011, 12:27 pm
Amy from Ex Brooklyinite says:
I worked for Dotty and Ray at the Doray for 10 years. Yes it was a dive, but it was a great dive. Do-Ray both had a heart of gold and put out many elaborate spreads every year for free, and anyone who needed to 'borrow a few' were never turned down. Nice to see you're still around L'il Joe (Shimkus) and Elaine!
Dec. 27, 2011, 2 am
vito from park slope says:
the very first time i walked into hanks was to see my sister who was the bartender.I have been in some wild bars in my short life(ha ha) I knew that this was my kinda place. not wild at all.during the daytime the regulars and the people who work at the courts.new faces down to earth food.at night its a younger group they have bands.once i plugged into hanks it was my second home.God Bless Hanks
Nov. 4, 2012, 5:31 pm
George from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Yes Elaine, someone did screw up and the auction was stopped. it was sold but not at auction, as the court ruled it was unclear if the bank that purported to hold the note actually had acquired it from the FDIC or if so when (the original lender was shut down by NYS for fraud) according to what I saw online. The bank that seemed to have the succeeding interest and the owner agreed to negotiate terms and sell the property and settle the matter peaceably but Hank's has a lease and is in business at least as long as the terms of the lease. But I hear the new owner is hassling the bar and they are fighting back... To be Contd. In the meantime Hanks continues to serve up beer, whisky and live music.
Jan. 17, 2013, 12:49 pm
Elaine from Brooklyn says:
I see Hanks is "doing" ok.
I was there a couple of months ago to surprise Jeanie and that we did. The decor is "darker" from what DoRay was.
Im glad that the bar is still standing. There will never be another Do-Ray Bar. "That was one a kind.

Miss you Dot and Ray. Love you
Elaine
Jan. 13, 2015, 4:18 pm
wayne mccomber from kahnawake Quebec says:
Lotta my people have been going to Doray's for many years, Ray and his wife treated everyone like family, I miss the place, I used to cash my cheques there eveyweek, I still have a coaster that says Doray'Tavern, where good friends meet,...the good old days are gone!
Nov. 6, 2015, 7:26 pm

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