Last summer, I sat in the backyard of Do or Dine in Bed-Stuy with a best friend visiting from Boston. It was a perfect night: chilling on the patio drinking beers with my bae at my favorite bar in warm weather—perfect, that is, except Do or Dine would soon be no more.

My relationship with Do or Dine started many months earlier. I had photographed and become friends with head chef and co-owner, Justin Warner. I lived around the corner and developed friendships with the other owners, wait staff, and bartenders after returning multiple times a week for post-work Genesees. There was always a spot at the bar and someone to talk to.

Recently, I walked into Do or Dive, the bar that replaced it. Despite its brazenly similar name, all the familiarity of Do or Dine was gone. There wasn’t a spot at the bar. I didn’t see anyone I knew. The décor was not the same: its mid- to high-end class was replaced with on-the-nose dive objects: a battery powered Schlitz sign; an analog TV; old American beer decals, in excess, everywhere.


On the other hand, they’d kept the same floor tiles and part of the original Do or Dine bar, as if part of the excavation had been forgotten. Standing inside Do or Dive drinking a High Life and examining it all, the combination of old mixed with faux-old was unsettling. I looked towards the front door. I remembered the day I shot Justin’s wedding here. I watched him and his wife walk inside to a sea of excited friends and family. To the right of the door, a booth is installed where I sat with the squad for our first Animal Sweater Dinner. The backyard—where I sat that summer night, and, another time, where I waited happily with a friend for a bike flat to be fixed down the street—was under construction.

Where I used to see bartenders, I saw shuffleboard. Where I used to see the kitchen cooking up octopus or shishito peppers, I saw a machine that dispenses Skinny Dennis’ frozen coffee drink in a paper cup. Where I used to see “Do or Dine” on the front awning, I saw “Do or Dive.” A piece of black tape covered the N in “Dine” to make the V in “Dive.” Another strip covered “restaurant.” And, as if to stick it to them a little bit more, Do or Dine’s tagline “Fine Diving” remained.

And then, I went downstairs to the bathroom. This, alone, was completely untouched. A mirror on one wall was surrounded by Do or Dine stickers—the same I still have on my bike. The writing on the wall that I’ve stared at over and over read the same but, somehow, it didn’t feel the same. Reading the words “Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way,” on a tile, I wanted to call bullshit on the whole thing. It was like my childhood home had new owners: the frame is the same, but the inside is stale and hackneyed.


Sure, Do or Dive’s drinks are very inexpensive. When the backyard opens, it will probably be great. After all, dogs are allowed. I have no doubt the guys behind Lucky Dog, Skinny Dennis, Rocka Rolla, and George & Jack’s have created a bar people will love. But, for me, it’s hard to forget what we had at Do or Dine. The wound is still open, and this feels like salt is being poured all over it. Luckily, for the new patrons of Do or Dive, they’re using some of that salt and making perfectly serviceable, dirt-cheap margaritas.

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  1. “My relationship with Do or Dine started many months earlier.” Did I read this right? Your relationship with a place that was open a total of FOUR years started months before it closed and you’re lamenting the new business there as if they closed a 60 year old landmark establishment and crapped all over the history. The article you’ve written here says more about NYC in 2016 than this restaurant to dive bar turnover possibly could. I’ve lived here my entire life and seen bars and restaurants my great grandparents went on dates in close forever within the last 20 years. The closure of any restaurant or bar frequently represents the the end of someone’s dream so I in no way begrudge the owners of Do or Dine and am sad for them that they had to close. That said, I’m sure the proprietors of the Caribbean restaurant which was there before Do or Dine were equally sad to close when Bed-Stuy gentrified and they couldn’t afford the rent anymore.

  2. Yeah sorry to hear the restaurant you “discovered” several months ago closed and was replaced by a bar. Seems to me like your issue is with Justin for closing the spot, not the people who took over the space.

    It was amusing to read about the awning change from somebody who clearly wasn’t around when Do or Dine’s was the exact same as the Caribbean joint that preceded them. (

    But yes, how dare new owners make a cheeky joke about the previous ones by reappropriating their awning!

  3. Maybe Justin should’ve paid his rent and payroll taxes. And actually figured out how to run a business. Having an open seat at the bar whenever you walk in is not a good thing. And owing the state of New York and the IRS a couple hundred thousand is inexcusable.

  4. Jane,
    I read your article 4 times to really try to figure out what your problem is. I respect anyone’s opinion and their right to be heard.
    I just cant believe how ridiculous you sound … I mean really ??
    Your major issue is that you fav place does not exist anymore , yes ?
    and because your taking your ball and going home the new owners are ripping off a FAILED BIZ ? do i have this correct ? and the NEW owners suck because why ??? they have 4 other awesome bars that people love to go to and have ….FUN ..???
    of course the entire do or dine place went into a dumpster because it closed a year ago and is dead ! get it ? …… you know anything about how business works ?

    you do not even know how to do your job as a reporter / journalist !!!….its called research , work , digging up facts as opposed to ones own needs and negativity. When locals have to jump on and respond to the real reason that do or dine closed to begin with ….you are clearly out of your league and have NOT a clue as to really happened. It dont matter who has the space now or what they did with it , they are not the reason it was closed for a year.

    i really think you let your personal bullshit get in the way of being a sound , unbiased reporter and then shit all over the place because you dont like it …. have you ever had the balls to invest everything you got into a bar and hope it works ? have you ever lived that bar 7 days a week and nurse it like a new mother to a child ??
    if ya did you would see why I take your article as a kick in the nuts

    Bill Mack

  5. This article shouldn’t have been longer than a sentence, “Do or Dine closed, and there’s now a much bigger bar in its place.” What’s the point? This is subpar… nah, calling this “journalism” is too big of a stretch.

  6. Gotta side with bill Mack on this one. I’m not really sure what the author is trying to convey other than that she is unhappy she lost do or dine as a place to hang. Disparaging the new business for offering affordable drinks is kind of weird. I for one am glad I can grab a cocktail for $9 in a day when they usually go for much more.
    Also, did bkmag editor vet this? Why not dump on a place for being bad instead of dumping on a place for simply taking over your former fave spot?