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

Want to buy Hank’s bar? It’s being auctioned tomorrow
Photo by Tom Callan

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.

Hank’s Saloon, one of Brooklyn’s last and dirtiest dive bars, could be razed for condos if developers buy it at an upcoming foreclosure auction.
Photo by Tom Callan