Boerum Hill/ Gowanus

Hank’s Saloon fights off foreclosure, but wants your $ help

Just another night at Hank’s. Via Flickr’s Aerik Von

Those of us who live near Hank’s, the flame-covered, musty smelling dive bar on Atlantic Avenue, probably have mixed emotions that range from joyfully bemused to eerily sketched-out. It’s great for a late nightcap or running into neighbors for a Sunday afternoon dose; but sometimes you end up arguing politics with a homeless guy at 3am or letting a girl buy you drinks with a $100 bill she “found” because she wants to talk to you about how she’s a big believer in “theories” while she’s waiting for her coke dealer (true story). After a long battle, Hank’s just successfully fought off foreclosure on its building and gets to stay for at least three years. But the rent is going up, back bills have to be paid, and they don’t have the money. So Hank’s is asking for donations. Will you kick in?

Hank’s posted a letter on its website saying that, while they get to stay, a new landlord came in to collect on unpaid back bills and real estate taxes that the bar now has to account for (which Hank’s said it didn’t know about until now).

“We are asking for donations to assist us with paying off these bills (the rent is already paid in full) as well as making moderate repairs to keep the music and the institution known as Hanks Saloon alive and kicking for the next three years at least,” the letter reads.

The site has a link to a Paypal account, through which you can donate any amount. So again here, mixed emotions. While this isn’t quite a crowdfunding campaign a la Kickstarter, it does raise the same issues: Can we give money to businesses just to help them stay afloat, without claiming any of the perks of patronizing said business (as in, if you give a bar money, you’re expected to get beer in return, right)?

I mean, I lurrrrved Kate’s Joint, the 16-year-old vegetarian bar and diner in the East Village that launched a desperate IndieGoGo campaign this spring to cover its rent. But when I was about to hit the donate button, I realized that rather than donating to it, I’d rather give it money by going in to eat there, a transaction that benefits both of us, which I think is called “business.” If I were John Turturro, I would happily throw in my share to save a store that I love. But when splurging for a whiskey is already a luxury, blind donation is hard to swallow. (Kate’s barely raised barely a sixth of its goal and was forced to close, btw).

A commenter on Hank’s Facebook page says Hank’s should instead try a full-on “rent party,” which seems like a much better way to raise money than sticking out your virtual guitar case on the internet. The commenter also notes that once Barclays events start up, they bar will likely roll in the dough, which may be one of the plus sides of that whole rusty stadium (though it is funny to think of 20-something Beiber or Streisand fans flocking to Hank’s). However, if it’s between Hank’s and another Applebee’s in the nabe, I say let’s talk theories, crazy girl.

Here’s Hank’s full letter:

Dear friends of Hanks Saloon
As some of you know, the building where we reside has finally sold. We have a three year lease remaining and would love to continue to offer free music, low booze prices and good times to NYC with the years we have left. Unfortunately, with the new landlord came unexpected back payments (such as immense water bills that we had no say over and back real estate taxes) that we were not aware of since they have been wrapped up in the foreclosure and receivership of building for the past 5 years. We are obviously located in a prime retail location that many people want. The good news is that we do have legal help to try and stay as long as we can.

We are asking for donations to assist us with paying off these bills (the rent is already paid in full) as well as making moderate repairs to keep the music and the institution known as Hanks Saloon alive and kicking for the next three years at least.

Hanks has been a vital outlet for local, national and international acts to perform on a NYC stage at little or no cost to audiences. It would be a shame to have such a Brooklyn landmark disappear in it’s prime.

Hanks Saloon is a mom and pop business that needs your help. Anything you can donate ($5, $10, $20 or whatever Hanks has meant to you over the years) will be greatly appreciated.

We thank you in advance for your generosity. Hopefully we can keep the music live and loud for the next few years. See ya at the bar!!!!

John, Julie and the crew at Hanks

What say you, brokesters? Will you donate?


  1. beezy

    Hanks is the bar that closes after the bar the closes after the bar that closes. I was really scared of that place for awhile (I assumed it was full of stab-happy bikers) but after going i thought it was great. A little spendy ($4 for a beer in a cup?) but as someone with slight to moderate hearing loss, I was able to go to a show in a small space and not leave with my ears ringing.

    • Tim Donnelly

      It’s a strange mix of clientele: crusty old townies, people from the recovery house next door, doctors and punks. Never quite sure where I fit in there but the more time I spend there, the more I feel that crusty old townie is my future.

  2. conaldarcy

    Rent party should be no-brainer. It would be even smarter to find an investor, if they really believe the Barclays Center is going to drive up business. I doubt it will, though. The BC is like a mom-and-pop neutron bomb that will vaporize all the small businesses in a three-mile radius. Hooray expansion!

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