Hank’s for stopping by!
Fans of the century-old honky-tonk dive bar Hank’s Saloon celebrated its revival on Monday night, as it quietly re-opened on the second floor of Downtown’s Texas eatery Hill Country Food Park. But the watering hole will really kick off at its grand opening on Feb. 2, featuring the new spot’s first live music, from the New York Fowl Harmonic. The bar’s owner is eager to see how the saloon fits into its new home, just a month after closing the original Hank’s on Third Avenue.
“We’re just trying to see what the neighborhood wants, how we can make it better for everyone in a new neighborhood,” said Julie Ipcar. “It’s gonna be really interesting and really fun to do it again. I’m sure we will have some of the regulars in here from the old place.”
The new iteration of the bar boasts some memorabilia from its past life, including the old cash register behind the bar and some of the stools, said Ipcar.
“It’s a nice little walk down memory lane,” she said. “Some Hank’s memorabilia in there.”
Band stickers notoriously plastered the walls of the old location, and Ipcar hopes that new bands coming through will recreate that tradition.
“Feel free to put your stickers everywhere,” she said. “I have a bunch saved from the past six months, a big pile of them, but I want it to be more organic than me putting it up, so bands can come and do that.”
The new Hank’s Saloon on Adams Street can pack 150 people inside — nearly double the crowd that could fit in the Third Avenue haunt — which will be a plus for when bigger bands come to play, according to Ipcar.
“It’s a larger capacity than the original Hank’s, which is really nice,” she said.
Monday was a “soft opening” for Ipcar to test out the new space and neighborhood, but the bar will eventually be open every day, she said.
“I’ve been meeting a lot of people, looking forward to who is gonna come in and watch some shows,” said Ipcar.
About 40 longtime regulars stopped by on Monday evening, many cracking jokes about the contrast between the run-down former dive bar and the shiny new spot.
“It doesn’t smell I’m not sticking to the seat — that’s different!” said one patron.
“Don’t worry, that’ll change,” quipped another.
Patrons can enter the saloon through the Texas-inspired food hall, or through a separate entrance on Adams street, once the hall closes at 8 pm.
The new location, tucked away inside Hill Country, is more of a blessing than a curse, said Ipcar, because locals love secrets spots like hideaways and speakeasies, said Ipcar, and the lack of residential neighbors means that bands can rock out all night.
“You can’t just walk in. But New Yorkers love the idea of secret locations, and it’s also really nice that it’s kind of a commercial zone not really disturbing anyone around you either,” she said.
Visitors can bring meals up from the food hall, but once it closes, they will soon have another option for bar food, said Ipcar.
“We are gonna have a little kitchen with a really cute menu within the next couple weeks,” she said.
Hank’s at Hill Country Food Park [345 Adams St. near Willoughby Street Downtown, (718) 885–2427, www.hcfoo