Janet Babin, Host, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a host and reporter at WNYC.
The area around the new Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn has become a new bar and restaurant hotspot.
Entrepreneurs are trying to capitalize on potential new business that could come from the 675,000-square-foot venue at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
But there are concerns that the hoards of fans from Brooklyn Nets games or concert goers looking for an after party could clash with locals at these new neighborhood watering holes.
That’s why many bar and restaurant owners are trying to appeal to both regulars and arena clientele.
“It’s not the easiest thing to target a market that doesn’t exist already,” said Brendan Spiro, operations manager at Woodland, a bar and restaurant two blocks south of the Barclays that opened up in May.
Spiro said the eatery deliberately went with a grill theme, in the hopes of being approachable to a wide number of potential customers.
“I don’t think we’re going to go down market, however we have areas [in the bar] allocated for pre-game fun or quicker visits, as opposed to regular diners, who may want to linger and sit down for a traditional meal.”
A new bar on Fifth Avenue just a few blocks from Barclays took a similar approach. The Wolf and Deer pub has a hip wood and muted metal vibe.
Owner Rafael Hasid said he tried to compile research from eateries surrounding Madison Square Garden to help guide him on a menu, but he said the comparisons were too complicated. He decided not to try and guess what potential new patrons would like.
“I think that stadium is going to be very diverse — people wise — very diverse people coming into the stadium, so I did what I wanted to do,” Hasid explained. “I hope people will like it.”
Many neighborhood residents surrounding Barclays have not opened their arms to the venue. They worry that the influx will change the neighborhood’s character.
Community Board 6 member Pauline Blake expressed concern at a recent committee meeting.
“This community is oversaturated with new local bars,” said Blake, whose CB is one of two surrounding Barclays.
Potential parking issues on game days have also galvanized neighborhood opponents. Dozens of grass-roots groups have formed to oppose the project.
The neighborhood surrounding Barclays has not opened its arms to the arena and the potential headaches that will come with it. Residents are concerned about rowdy crowds spilling out of the 19,000 seat venue, could rattle regular diners, and may even keep them away – at least on game day.
“I'm a native New Yorker and I think I suffer from the affliction of being really annoyed when there are like, large loud touristy crowds,” said Michele Lent Hirsch lives in Windsor Terrace, as she eyed the menu at Woodland.
At least six new establishments have opened up near the Arena in the past year. One bar, O’Connors, in Park Slope, is undergoing a major renovation.
According to local Community Board 8, just over two dozen new bar and restaurants have requested liquor licenses in the past 12 months in the area between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway, from Flatbush to Washington Avenues.
That compares with eight requests in the same time period in 2010 and 2011.