The 66-year-old Hinsch’s has always aroused intense feelings of nostalgia in Bay Ridge, a neighborhood crowded with an inordinate number of sentimental favorites. But as the area’s restaurant options have exponentially improved, the owners of the throwback diner have had a tough time translating warm and fuzzy feelings into actual dollars and cents, funneled towards greasy spoon staples like tuna melts and Western omelets—although their old fashioned ice cream and egg creams have reliably remained tops.
Which is why the embattled relic has been on the very brink of closure for the last five years, starting when longtime proprietors, the Logue family, shuttered the place when their lease expired in 2011, due to “current economic conditions and customers’ changing eating patterns.” Hinsch’s was saved in the 11th hour by the partners of the nearby pub, Skinflints, but put on the chopping block again in 2013, when they too failed to make a profit. After that, the iconic neon signs came down for the first time in decades, but all, it seemed, was not lost, as they were evidently being edited to read “Mike’s Hinsch’s,” after the eatery’s newest savior, Michael Moudsatos, possessor of a series of souvlaki spots in Staten Island. Which brings the saga up to the present for Hinsch’s (final, this time) chapter—for while the Moudsatos family has retained the lease, Hinsch’s will be operated, going forward, as a Stewart’s franchise.
“Stewart’s is an old brand—even older than Hinsch’s—with the same basic concept of an old soda shop,” explained Mike’s son, Lee Moudsatos, to the Home Reporter. “So we thought it was a great idea to bring it here and kind of merge it with Hinsch’s. That way, we keep it the same while expanding a little.”
That means, while Brooklyn’s first branch of the Northeast-based, root beer-focused chain — which originated in the 1920s, and grew to include a series of car-hops — will continue to serve Hinsch’s famous ice cream and handmade chocolates, they’ll also offer Stewart’s full line of all-American items as well, including funnel cakes, chili dogs, fried pickles, and cheese curds.
“The whole thing is, Stewart’s reaches both the younger generations and the older,” Moutsatos said. “We thought it would draw more of the younger crowd in but, at the same time, we’re hopeful we can still appeal to the same faces we’ve been serving for years.”
8518 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge