New York’s only perfect bar is Dynaco in Bed-Stuy. It has everything you could want in a neighborhood spot. It’s ideal for having a birthday party, meeting a friend or two, or sitting alone and reading. It envelops you and lets you relax. It has a fireplace. If you don’t make too big a deal of it, you can bring in a big container of nachos and go to town. And, you know, sometimes it gets kind of busy and loud with attractive people, but only when you’re drunk enough to find that charming and fun (and not so early that it’s annoying). It has a good rotating beer list and nice cocktails (as well as nice cocktail glasses). Plus, it serves cake and has a cool wall that’s made out of speakers.
Brothers Ben and Adam Forgash opened Dyanco in 2013 in a space that used to be a paint storeroom, and have run it jointly ever since. The brothers, who grew up in New Jersey, are very close and were obviously pained not to speak to me together. At one point, Ben told me that they often finish each other’s sentences; it was only then that I noticed he’d been trailing off about three-quarters of the way through all of his thoughts, as if he was long used to someone else cutting him off.
Here’s what Ben had to say about opening a perfect bar.
What was going on with you when you opened Dynaco?
I was having my first child when we were building this place. At that time, the foundation of my house collapsed. So I was building this bar, having a child, and we couldn’t live in our house. And I was living in an apartment in the city, commuting to Bed-Stuy from 55th Street. It was crazy.
What was important to include when you opened this place?
It all goes down to what Adam and I like about the bars that we like. We don’t like going to bars with TVs. For us, you go to a bar to get away, to go somewhere else. You go into a bar with a TV, and you’re not away! Everything’s right in front of you. The world is right there.
Is that also why it doesn’t really have windows?
If you have a glass front, you’re not really away. You close the door here, and you could be anywhere. That appeals to me.
Some people say this bar has a Midwestern feel, with all the wood and wicker and brass.
We definitely had this sort of Northern California thing in mind. Neil Young, early seventies kind of vibe in our head; very relaxed, Topanga Canyon.
In the few years this place has been open, the neighborhood has changed. A lot of places opened, and just recently a lot of places have been closing down again.
It’s strange. Do or Dine closed, and I was really upset. It was such an institution here. We love those guys. And then Matthew at Scratchbread closed. It was really cool to just have this little community here. As far as navigating it, I think the more [places that open] the better.
We’re in Bed-Stuy. Do you ever feel like a gentrifier?
It would upset me if we’d opened this place and I didn’t see the neighborhood coming in. But I do see them coming in. People who’ve lived here for all their lives do come in. They’re happy we’re here, and so are gentrifiers or whatever, people new to the neighborhood. What makes me happy is that is has become a neighborhood bar. It’s not a destination. People from the neighborhood come here. I met a lot of people who grew up in this neighborhood and I met them here. That makes me happy.
What’s the biggest problem you’ve had here?
Somebody came in, and I don’t even remember what the conflict was, but the aftermath was that somebody hit Ryan, our bartender, while he was behind the bar. That was pretty bad. We’ve had some theft, but when somebody gets hurt like that, it’s crazy.
But you didn’t then hire a bouncer after that?
No, no. Bouncers make me very uncomfortable. Obviously if you’re in a place that you need one, then you need one, and hopefully that bouncer smiles. But that’s rare.
Photo by Jane Bruce