At the end of 2011, the owner of Hinsch’s, an anachronistic luncheonette/soda fountain in Bay Ridge that made its own chocolates and ice cream, abruptly announced he would close the iconic institution. He cited an expired lease and an increase in rent, but declined to mention he’d also been shut down by the health department “after inspectors said it was a magnet for rats with improperly refrigerated food and roaches in the kitchen and common areas,” the Brooklyn Paper reported at the time. In stepped some experienced Bay Ridge restaurateurs, including the owner of Skinflint’s, who quickly resurrected the eatery with some updates: there was a veggie burger on the menu; the waitresses were all PYTs.
But after a year Hinsch’s is again set to close, and this time it seems unlikely that another savior will come to its rescue. “Gross revenues had about doubled,” the Home Reporter reports, “but they would have had to double again to make the business viable.” The biggest problem was that people weren’t coming in. “A day like today, it’s beautiful out, it’s warm, and there’s nobody here,” a co-owner told the local paper. “You don’t pay this kind of rent in a location like this and have a day like we had today. It’s totally disheartening, doing everything we can for a year, then to have an empty store. So we’re cutting our losses and saying goodbye.”
Which sort of sounds a little like a “fuck you”—that if Hinsch’s is closing, it’s our own damn fault! When it was first announced the place would close, the outcry was fierce and loud, but it was because no one wants to see a classic place, the setting of so many memories, close down. That doesn’t mean they’re going to go support them regularly to make their business viable, though!
The other problem, I imagine, is the high rents landlords charge, particularly in a dense shopping district like the one surrounding 86th Street, of which Hinsch’s is a part. The landlord could easily get bigger bucks from a corporate chain. So there goes the neighborhood; I wonder which cell-phone provider will set up shop here! You know, when I was a kid—which wasn’t that long ago—there were no McDonald’s in Bay Ridge. Imagine that.
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