Photo by This Bushwick Life
191 Knickerbocker was a restaurant and bar, known for our comfort food, large portions, like family style portions and happy hour sangrias. Jesse and I have years of experience in the industry but this restaurant was our first experience as small business owners.
Jesse and I are from Queens. We owned our apartment there then sold it and moved to Bushwick to open our restaurant. We lived in Bushwick for three years but we’re back in Queens now. I’m originally from Guyana (born and raised). Jesse is originally from White Plains, NY.
191 Knickerbocker became popular for being a low key, unassuming neighborhood bar serving up nostalgic home-style meals like matzo ball soup, Swedish meatballs, chicken parm and a burger the size of someone’s head. We were also known for our open mic nights hosted by Donny D. Rose.
During COVID sales were down, take-out didn’t work out for us, we didn’t qualify for financial assistance and our landlord wanted us out because we couldn’t pay our rent. As of December, 2020 an announcement was officially made about our closing. We had to pull the plug because we had very little direction or assistance from our city and not much assistance from our government. 191 Knickerbocker has officially declared bankruptcy and closing permanently.
The people of Bushwick made me proud to be part of this community. Since leaving my country Guyana as a teenager, I grew accustomed to not greeting the person passing me by or saying hello to a neighbor. It was an adjustment, when I moved to Bushwick as an adult - Bushwick natives would say hello, good morning, would look at me with a smile, a stranger, total stranger. It brought me back to myself. I had forgotten this simple gesture that was a part of my culture back home.
New Yorkers are resilient, we’ve all heard this before, so many times. I have faith we’ll all find a way once this year is behind us. I’d like to think that every town, county, region will find a way - I pray that every person on this planet will find a way to rise from the ashes of 2020.
Describe Bushwick in one word?
Tamales! Bushwick has the best tamales.
Where do you like to hangout in Bushwick?
Maria Hernandez Park, Father Knows Best, Roberta’s, Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos & Molasses Books.