Get it while it’s hot.
Park Slope restaurant and family favorite Two Boots Brooklyn is closing after 24 years to make way for a more night-life-oriented venture that will offer up Southern-themed cuisine minus the Italian influence and host more music and an expanded bar without shutting out kids entirely, owners said on Monday.
“It’s going to be One Boot, if you will,” said co-operator Andy Wandzilak, who, along with his wife Piper, is taking over the business from retiring owner John Touhey. “We are losing the pizza, the Italian boot,” leaving Louisiana’s geographical footwear for inspiration, he said.
The Second Street eatery will close on Sunday, as first reported by the blog F’d in Park Slope, and should reopen in January as a yet-to-be-named establishment with a renovated dining room, an expanded bar, and a tweaked-but-familiar vibe that will downplay the place’s bright-colored sensibility, Wandzilak said.
“It’s going to grow up a little bit away from the frolicking kid restaurant it has been,” he said. “But there will still be a place for kids.”
Touhey is bowing out to focus full-time on his day job as assistant principal at Downtown’s St. Joseph High School and said that he is sad to leave the business that has become a community cornerstone, but glad to get some breathing room after all these years.
“I’ll miss it terribly but I have to move on,” he said. “It’s always been a community center. Particularly for families.”
And he is not kidding. Touhey founded the Two Boots with a fellow New Orleans lover near his home in Manhattan’s East Village in 1987, then moved to Park Slope and opened a second eatery two years later because friends demanded it, he said. (That very year, former Brooklyn Paper columnist Louise Crawford got engaged late one night at the East Village location. Read her 2007 column for a slice of a family life lived in the Park Slope spot.)
He brought on Piper as a waitress in 1991 and, by the mid-1990s she was helping to run the place and hired Andy as a cook.
In 1996, she married the new guy and the couple joined the club of Two Boots staffers who wound up wed, which has ample membership Touhey said. All the while, his own brood was growing up in the booths.
“We’ve literally raised two generations of kids there,” Touhey said. “My kids are having kids and bringing those kids there.”
The outgoing proprietor says that he will be a regular at the restaurant’s next iteration, which he thinks will attract a cool demographic that the place has long lacked.
“We were known as a family place, which gave the image that, if you were in your 20s or 30s, it wasn’t such a hip place because of all those screaming kids around,” he said. “[The Wandzilaks] are going to let people know that it is a place for young adults and music people.”
The announcement of the closure spurred an outpouring of support on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“I’ve eaten in many fine restaurants, but none whose closing could sadden me more,” Andy Webster wrote. “Thanks for the cherished memories.”
Touhey may be leaving the dining business, but the Two Boots name will live on in the Deep South pizzeria chain that his former partner spun off of the original. That business now boasts 13 locations nationwide and has a new outlet set to open in Williamsburg in the next few month, according to Touhey.
Two Boots Brooklyn will have an informal send-off on Saturday night with weekend regular Jonny Meyers Trio.
Last days at Two Boots Brooklyn [514 Second St. (718) 419–3253, www.twobootsbrooklyn.com]. Sat, 10 am–3:30 pm and 5 pm–midnight. Sun, 10 am–3:30 pm and 5 pm–10:30 pm.