Signing off in Hook: Beloved Van Brunt Street dive closes with alcohol-soaked bash

Signing off in Hook: Beloved Van Brunt Street dive closes with alcohol-soaked bash
Photo by Jason Speakman

It was a reel blowout!

Loyal patrons of a beloved Red Hook dive bar took their last swigs at the liquor-slinging pub on Saturday during a rowdy final farewell party that bested any other night in the nearly 15-year-old spot’s existence, its owner said.

“I can die alone because, I’ve had my wake for seven f—– days. I know it’s not me, it’s my bar, but same difference,” said Barry O’Meara, the now-former proprietor of Bait and Tackle. “It had come to an end, but you can’t be sad about something so beautiful.”

O’Meara opened the Van Brunt Street watering hole in 2003, and kept it afloat after superstorm Sandy ravaged the waterfront community in 2012. But the skyrocketing cost of doing business in the changing neighborhood became too much to afford, so he decided to close up shop and serve his final round at an all-day rager on Jan. 27, the owner said.

“It was such a fun day,” he said. “All family coming together, having drinks. It was a great time.”

O’Meara plans to travel South America on what he called the trip of a lifetime now that he shuttered the dive, he said.

And the former booze peddler is not yet sure whether he’ll man another bar, but said he’ll definitely be dropping anchor again in Red Hook following his travels.

“To have this opportunity at my age — I’m just taking it. I don’t have any kids or wives that I know about,” O’Meara said. “But this will always be home.”

The farewell bash was more bittersweet for those locals who made the watering hole their home over the years, according to one patron, who said its end reminded her of the near death of another neighborhood institution, Sunny’s, which locals and this newspaper helped save last year.

“It’s going to be eerie, the neighborhood is so small,” said Danie Hutch, a manager of the more-than-century-old Conover Street bar. “It’s a weird thing that one lived, and one died.”

And Bait and Tackle isn’t the only clubby bar to leave Van Brunt Street this year. Hope and Anchor, just a few blocks away, will shutter later this month after 15 years of serving the nabe, its owners announced on social media earlier this year.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.