New York real estate is a life cycle: One business shutters and another comes in to take its place; a venue gets priced out and floats in the ether like a disembodied spirit until it finds a new host. The Brooklyn Bazaar has been homeless since last summer, when it was kicked out of its huge Greenpoint home to make way for, of all things, BMW. Its sister bazaar at Riis Beach Park has been going strong all summer, but tonight the original Brooklyn Bazaar returns in glittery style at its new home, the former Polonaise Terrace catering hall and event space at 150 Greenpoint Ave. Instead of a giant warehouse full of vendors, food, bars and a stage, the Bazaar is embracing its new location’s three-level layout for a more segmented experience. Paired with the mirror-covered walls, retro carpets and nook-filled layout of the old catering hall, it feels like hanging out at a no-adults-allowed bar mitzvah, or spending a night a punk rock funhouse that’s well stocked with food and booze.
Their grand opening is tonight, with a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show. Unlike its predecessor, the Brooklyn Bazaar (formerly known as the Brooklyn Night Bazaar) will be open seven days a week, and will add comedy, film and other events to its regular concert roster. It’s the rare case of a shuttered Brooklyn venue coming back from the dead, and Belvy Klein, who co-founded the bazaar with Aaron Broudo, considers the space an important part of the always struggling DIY community.
“A big reason venues like us need to survive is because New York is getting more and more generic and homogenous and boring,” Klein told Brokelyn at a special preview event Wednesday. “The thing with DIY venues and spaces is you can let artists be artists and musicians be musicians and chefs be chefs without having to fall under some horrible corporate umbrella.”
Here’s what to expect at the new Bazaar:
Entrance is always free, but some concerts, held in the upstairs venue, are now ticketed. Klein said when he came across the space — an 80-year-old catering hall with decor you could either consider tackily outdated or wonderfully retro, depending on your taste — he wanted to keep much of the aesthetic intact.
“To me it’s like American Horror Story and The Shining meets Scarface,” he said. “We just wanted to embrace that. We kept the mirrors, kept the rugs, kept the good stuff, put in [some] wallpaper.”
Of course, the life cycle of NYC real estate will continue to churn. But Klein, a former member of the hardcore group 7 Seconds, hopes the Bazaar will be able to keep its current location indefinitely so Brooklyn will be able to keep one of its unique nightlife options alive.
“I think it’s important that it continues to exist,” he said. “At the end of the day we’re a DIY venue, we’re a DIY company,” he said. “We’re not Live Nation, we’re not AEG, we’re not Bowery Presents.”
Instead of a sprawling layout with vendors and food spread across one huge space like at the previous locations, the new Bazaar is broken up into sections. Here’s the breakdown:
THE VENDOR ROOM (first floor)
To the right of the entrance is a wide ballroom that will serve as the Bazaar’s vendor space on Fridays and Saturdays, Sundays, with a brunch bazaar on Sundays, all starting Oct. 9. The space has its own bar with wine on tap, Sixpoint cans and more, and can fit about 40 vendors.
During the week, the space will be used for other events, including weekly movies presented by Nitehawk Cinema (which is having a great week overall). The movies kick off Tuesday with Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water. Comedy nights, food events, comic conventions, wine tastings and more could be in the future too, Klein said.
FOOD BY BROOKLYN STAR (first floor)
In a mirror-surrounded dining room that feels like a Jersey diner run through a Twin Peaks filter sits the dining area. The food is handled by Brooklyn Star (as opposed to multiple food vendors at previous Bazaars), but they’re bringing in guest chefs monthly.
The menu includes fried chicken bao with hoisin, sriracha and cucumber slaw ($4); corn dogs with apple mustard and charred pickled cabbage ($7), crispy fried tofu sandwiches with pickled radish and Korean BBQ sauce ($9), plus salads and sides like ham hock collards, grilled corn, jalapeño mac & cheese (all $4). Wings and buckets of fried chicken round out the options.
THE GAME ROOM (downstairs)
Mini golf in Brooklyn is having a great moment this year! The Bazaar brings back its DIY mini golf course ($5 to play) in the basement of the new spot, with holes incorporating repurposed car tires, a xylophone and other neon-colored obstacles.
Behind the mini golf course is a small game room with Game of Thrones-inspired pinball, House of the Dead, table hockey, a Terminator shooting game and a few other things, including a claw game where you can currently win stuffed Harley Quinn figurines (which may be more fun than the actual Suicide Squad movie).
Across the hall, a big room is stocked with ping pong tables and another bar.
KARAOKE ROOMS (downstairs)
In keeping with the charm of the Bazaar as a place you can get lost in/spend the whole night exploring, there are a handful of private karaoke rooms. They’re cozier than the average karaoke room, with low-hanging fabric ceilings and thick couches that have probably been there forever (and true to basement game room form, there is a slight mold smell throughout the downstairs). You can pick songs via an iPad, and lyrics come up on a flat screen television.
THE MUSIC VENUE (upstairs)
The top floor is dedicated to the Bazaar’s music venue. The stage is adorned with stained glass, and there’s another bar plus plenty of space to spread out. Upcoming shows include Ted Leo, The Thermals, Underground Systems and more; see the full schedule here.
See more pictures of the new space here:
The Brooklyn Bazaar at 150 Greenpoint Ave. has its grand opening tonight; it’s open Sunday-Thursday 5pm-1am and Friday and Saturday, 5pm-2am.