PROSPECT HEIGHTS — In a neighborhood known for change, Bar Sepia has been a constant.
The local bar has been pouring beer and building a tight-knit community for a decade. It will celebrate its 10-year anniversary March 15.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” said owner Delissa Reynolds of opening the bar in 2004. “I’ve grown so much in the process. It’s made me absolutely fearless.”
When Reynolds opened Bar Sepia, on 234 Underhill Ave., there were only six other bars in the neighborhood. The Brooklyn Museum was undergoing renovations, and rent was still reasonable. There was a powerful sense of possibility in the neighborhood.
“I knew there was going to be change and I didn’t want to be marginalized,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t want to sit in the sidelines.”
Bar Sepia has hosted everything from community meetings to a wedding reception for a couple who met at the bar. It has organized relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and superstorm Sandy.
The community Reynolds helped create even expanded to her competitors. Now-closed bars including Freddy's and Mooney's became neighbors, borrowing CO2 tanks when one ran out. Some of them even competed in local softball leagues.
"They opened the doors to be a part of the community," Reynolds said of her predecessors. "Those guys were around when cabs wouldn't come in this neighborhood. They paved the way for the rest of us."
Over the years, higher rents and gentrification have changed the neighborhood.
Out of the six bars that were around in 2004, only two remain — Soda Bar and Bar Sepia.
The people who make up the neighborhood have also changed. People have always moved in and out of Prospect Heights. But the turnover that used to take five years now seems to happen every two years, Reynolds said.
Like she has done in the last decade, Reynolds hopes to provide the people of Prospect Heights with at least one constant in an ever-changing neighborhood.
She’ll continue to host trivia nights once a month, biannual crawfish boils, a tree-trimming party, and invite people over for Sunday dinners at the bar.
The 10-year anniversary will feature live music by DJ O.P., no cover charge, and one or two sentimental speeches, Reynolds said.