Red Hook is losing one of its most beloved restaurants after 15 years in business. Fort Defiance, perhaps best known for its cheeseburgers, brunch and cocktails, announced that it’s closing permanently next weekend.
“Don’t ask why we’re closing — ask how in the hell we managed to stay open for as long as we did,” the restaurant announced on Instagram, shocking its customers.
Rather than dwelling on the sad news, the restaurant’s team is thanking its “devoted guests, who found comfort and delight at our tables” and its employees “who devoted their working lives to making Fort Defiance a home away from home for the people of Red Hook, Brooklyn, and beyond.”
Fort Defiance has dealt with a lot since opening in 2003, including a pandemic-forced year-plus relocation a few blocks down, where it operated as a general store. Then there was a year-long wait for a liquor license at the new-old location that finally let them open a bar last year.
The restaurant is owned by St. John Frizell, who also owns the trendy Gage & Tollner chop house in Downtown Brooklyn. He created a memorable cocktail list for Fort Defiance, including their best-in-class Irish coffees and the perfectly crisp St. John’s martini. Menu mainstays included the popular cheeseburger, juicy steaks and a popular brunch selection.
Fort Defiance will be open this weekend and next weekend, including for brunch on the last remaining weekends. “We also hope to find someone wonderful to take over this lovely space, on the best corner in the neighborhood,” the restaurant added.
For those looking to eat their food, even with the restaurant no longer in existence, Fort Defiance says they’re posting recipes on Instagram so people “can celebrate the memory of this great good place with your friends and family, wherever you are.”
The surprise announcement stunned its commenters.
“This loss will always be felt. But glad to have experienced this dream for as long as we did,” one person wrote. Another wrote: “We can’t begin to describe what Fort Defiance meant to us. It feels like we are losing a friend … Fort Defiance was magic, and will always be our favorite home away from home.”