To my dismay, the bar Hunky Dory will be closing its doors on October 31st 2021. Located on the corner of Franklin Ave and Sterling Pl in Crown Heights, it’s welcoming and comforting outdoor atmosphere provided much comfort, especially in the past year during the pandemic. Please enjoy this beautiful fall in this establishment’s welcoming space during it’s last month.
I had never visited Hunky Dory before the pandemic shut down the city in March of 2020. After months of staying home, desperately zooming with friends for slivers of human connection, and cautiously leaving the house for just for groceries, I tentatively grabbed onto the tiny hints of optimism in late summer / early fall of 2020; cases in New York had dropped significantly from their terrifying levels, masks were worn everywhere, and outdoor dining slowly began.
At this point, I was coming up to my 1 year anniversary of moving to New York. It had unfolded much differently than anticipated. My contingency of friends and acquaintances had dwindled in a blink of an eye; everyone returned to their home states or countries leaving 3 of us in New York.
The cooling temperatures at the end of summer were a welcome to a bleak summer and fall in cases. The 3 of us that remained in New York formed our bubble. I would bike over to their Crown Heights neighborhood on the weekend to spend time outdoors on their rooftops, finding safety in being outdoors and with a small number of people. That was my routine; make it through the remote working week by cooking by myself in the evenings and reading at night, then eagerly take my bike across the Manhattan bridge in the fall breeze, pass the brownstones on Dean street, and land in Crown Heights to see familiar faces.
If we weren’t at the roof, we would frequent a number of places in the neighborhood: Bien Cuit’s quiet outdoor backyard garden was a perfect spot to retreat with a coffee. Mi Tierra’s burritos and table under the umbrella were lovely in the evenings. And Hunky Dory’s outdoor dining space nestled cozily on the intersection of Franklin and Sterling quickly became one of our favorites.
After living in confined spaces during the week, Hunky Dory’s expansiveness was a breath of fresh air, an oasis that we’d gladly indulge ourselves in whenever possible. The new presence of strangers felt exhilarating while the safety of the outdoors was comforting. The small tables fit our intimate group of 3 perfectly. Without much of an agenda and put at ease with the playful space and “Be Antiracist” signs protecting the space, we’d spend the time joking around, or sketching silently in our sketchbooks, or sneakily eavesdropping on other’s absurd conversation; reminding us how much we love the unpredictable nature of this city. The backdrop fit what we needed; whether it was just to sit peacefully in each other’s presence or to clutch our stomachs, laughing at the top of our lungs.
These moments weren’t enough to quell all the anxieties during this period. So much was still out of our control. But it was enough to feel human again, a glimpse into what it meant to share moments with other again and to remind me the favorite parts of myself.
Ultimately this period didn’t last; the holiday spike in cases, weather turning for winter, and the eventual greater return to New York altered these intimate fleeting dynamics. I’m uneasy saying I miss something from a period of time that was really difficult and would turn for the worse. But although Covid split us apart, there was a quiet solace and intimate togetherness during that period that couldn’t be replicated as New York fully reopened after the vaccine. That period of peace wouldn’t solve all of our problems and more were coming down the road, but the welcome reprieve made space for the things that needed to happen.
Now that it’s fall again, I’m looking forward to dining at Hunky Dory again, thinking about how much has changed in a year.
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