Everyone’s seen those buildings that, without much rhyme or reason, seem to be an automatic death sentence for any restaurant that dares touch down in them, with business after business moving in, sprucing the place up, then quietly leaving around six months later.
For a long time, I worried that the building at 921 Broadway in Bushwick was one of these. Its abandoned-by-the-actual-franchise branch of Beauty Bar — one of the first places I started going to regularly when I moved to the neighborhood — closed down about a year ago, taking its (vaguely sinister) glitter rainbows, total lack of the company’s signature beauty treatments, bargain basement prices, and mostly empty seating with it.
When its successor, Broomie’s, shut down a few months after opening, it seemed pretty clear that hope was lost, and we should all just suck it up and do our neighborhood drinking elsewhere. But not so! As it turns out, Broomies owner Jeff Pan was busy renovating the place with his new partners —found on Craigslist, of all places — Ian Cronin and Sabra Saperstein, the forces behind longtime Smorgasburg staple Skytown.
“I didn’t have any experience in the restaurant business [and] they’ve always wanted to open up their own space, so it was a perfect match,” says Pan of his newly opened and re-named Skytown.
While Broomie’s still had vestiges of the old Beauty Bar decorations, Skytown is virtually unrecognizable, largely for the better. “We’ve gutted out the entire interior,” says Pan, “Everything from the glasses we’re using to the lighting has been changed from the old Beauty Bar.” They’ve also upgraded from a small stable of beer and well liquor to cocktails and a full, locally-sourced menu that includes Skytown’s signature massaged kale sald.
In spite of the many, many improvements, prices haven’t skyrocketed — a cocktail will run you about $6, a sandwich $7 or $8 — and Saperstein explains, “We wanted to pay attention to context, to be accessible and meet the neighborhood in the middle with the price point.”
Pan adds, “My first New York City apartment was actually an old factory loft a block away, so there’s always been a nostalgic personal connection to the neighborhood.”
Looks like the neighborhood may finally have a spot that’s in it for the long haul.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.