Red Hook History: Bars and Restaurants in the 1880s by Maryam Daghmoumi

The idea behind this Red Hook history blog is to get a snap shot view of the restaurants and bars in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the late 1800s according to the research done by Maggie Blanck.

First I feel compelled to mention that there were 10 restaurants listed in the 1883 directory and 16 listed in the 1890 directory. Three of them remained and were listed in both directories.

There were also 2 hotels, The Atlantic House at 12 Hamilton and The Erie Basin Hotel (known as Stuck’s Hotel) at 422 Van Brunt, and both had restaurants located in them.

Henry Bohand and William Varrelman were the proprietors of Oyster houses. Gustav Ahlstrom served steak. The Harts served “beef and beans”. Mary Tower served a hearty meal and Milwaukee beer. William Varrelman had bottles of catsup on his tables.

In addition to the standard tables and chairs what kind of decorations and amenities did the typical Red Hook restaurant have?

The Groh establishment was described in 1889 as a boarding house with a dining room. Gesine Helke’s place on Conover Street was also a boarding house. A Portuguese boarding house on Hamilton avenue contained a safe, Gusta Ahlstrom’s dining room boasted three mirrors, and the Struck’s hotel had a telephone in 1886.

A lot of the dates and facts complied during the research that Maggie has done on Red Hook come from police reports and archives. There were many assaults taking place over trivial matters, take for instance this: 

In 1894 a customer came into as “small restaurant” at 155 Van Brunt. He ordered a hearty meal and “washed it down with a bottle of the best Milwaukee in the house” then started for the door without paying the bill. Two waiters tried to stop him. There was a scuffle and a knife was drawn. No one was seriously hurt. The “customer” was arrested on two charges of felonious assault.

And also this:

1888: William Smith was said to have a dinning saloon at 153 Van Brunt when a fight broke out and one person was injured.

In the 1880s and early 1900’s Red Hook was a pretty crazy place to live!

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