The venerable Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern, a no-frills dive bar in Williamsburg known for its cheap drinks and punk rock soundtrack, will close at the end of the month. Eric Carson, the grandson of the bar's eponymous proprietor, Rosemary Bleday, confirmed the news to Gothamist this week.
Rosemary's has been serving up drinks since 1955, making it one of the oldest and most iconic watering holes in ever-shifting Williamsburg.
Bleday first started working behind the bar at age 22, after her parents bought the tavern and they moved in above the bar. (The tavern had previously been located at Green Street and Manhattan Avenues, in Greenpoint, hence the name). Bleday, 86, has been pouring drinks at the Bedford Avenue-based bar ever since. She still lives upstairs and will have to find a new place to live imminently.
Carson says that the bar held out for a long time, even as they got offers left and right over time, and in recent years as the developer bought up the buildings beside Rosemary's, which is located at 188 Bedford Avenue, near North 7th Street. In 2016, RedSky Capital bought the three-story, three-unit building next door, at 190 Bedford Avenue, for $13.2 million, as The Real Deal reports. In what the publication dubs a "nearly block-long assemblage," the developers also purchased the building next to that, at 192 Bedford, as well as Rosemary's other neighbors at 184-186 Bedford Avenue.
According to property records, the building has been under the ownership of Debra Carson, Eric's mother. It's unclear who bought the building. RedSky Capital has not responded to Gothamist's request for comment.
Eric Carson told us that construction on the neighboring properties threatens structural damage to the building.
"Unfortunately in doing that—them knocking down two buildings on either side of us, being a wood frame building—according to an engineer report, puts us at serious risk for damage," he says. "And my grandmother living up here wouldn’t be safe or conducive to running a business."
As of right now, Carson, who was "pretty much raised at this bar," says there are no plans to relocate Rosemary's. "The Greenpoint Tavern is here, 188 Bedford, and I don’t think we can recreate that anywhere else," he says. "And it’s not an undertaking that someone of her age is willing to do as well. It wouldn’t be the same for her or for anybody, the customers."
Leading up to its closure, the bar will honor its six decades of life with an event for friends and family, and, of course, many drinks. "The 28th is an end of an era basically, so we’re just gonna try and drink all the booze," Carson says, chuckling softly. "It’s sad, but the only thing we can do at this point is to celebrate it."