LeNell Smothers, the beloved owner of a closed Red Hook liquor store, announced she’s given up her search for another store in Brooklyn and will open a booze-themed hostel to Mexico.
The emotional announcement was secretly recorded by a tippler at a whiskey tasting in a Manhattan bar on Tuesday night and posted on Spirited Cocktails, the seminal Web site for all mind-altering libations.
“I’ve been looking for space for two-plus years and have had a real soul search,” a choked-up Smothers is seen saying on the videotape. “I just decided last week that I’m giving up the search. I m tired and I can’t do it anymore, [but] I’m not leaving the industry.”
But she’s leaving the country.
“It’s time to move on — I’m moving to Mexico,” Smothers told a room full of friends. “I’m hoping to open up a cocktail bed-and-breakfast down there.” (Insiders are already calling it a “B and B and B.”)
Smothers was the owner of an eponymous liquor store on Van Brunt Street that closed in February after a protracted dispute with the landlord. She had said she hoped to reopen nearby.
Smothers, when reached by The Brooklyn Paper, was surprised to learn that her farewell speech had been caught on tape and hit the airwaves before she could prepare an official announcement.
She said she made up her mind to get out of Brooklyn when another deal for new retail space collapsed last week.
“It was a space I had been negotiating on forever, but it fell through,” she said.
Smothers is not the first person to look South of the Border when plans at home soured. Other luminaries include LSD-fueled writer Ken Kesey, disgraced dueler and former Vice President Aaron Burr, and Soviet legend Leon Trotsky, whose revolutionary spirit ended at the business end of an icepick in 1940.