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Bed-Stuy New Hot Spot for City's Top Bars Looking to Expand

 Bar and restaurant owners from outside of Bed-Stuy have found the neighborhood to be right up their alley while expanding.
Established Business Owners Find New Home in Bed-Stuy
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — When Calvin Clark decided to open a second bar, he didn't look to expand in pricey Fort Greene, home of his popular drinking spot Mo's.

Instead, he looked east. To Bed-Stuy.

With Bedford Hall, which opened at 1177 Bedford Ave., Clark became one of a growing number of established business owners who see moving into the neighborhood as a wise investment.

"It's just a neighborhood that's full of possibilities," Clark said. "As the neighborhood is changing, people are demanding more restaurants, bars, more amenities."

In the last year, Bed-Stuy has seen an increase in bars and restaurants opened by established restaurateurs and bar owners who are catching up to a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, business owners and officials said.

In addition to Bedford Hall and Clark's new rock venue Olivia, at 1073 Atlantic Ave., last year saw the opening of Glorietta Baldy, a craft beer place at 502 Franklin Ave. from Bar Great Harry and Mission Dolores owners Ben, Seth and Mike Wiley; and Oaxaca Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant with locations across Manhattan and in Brooklyn, at 1116 Bedford Ave.

Further east, Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel, who opened their first restaurant Smoke Joint in Fort Greene eight years ago, continued their expansion into Bed-Stuy with a new Little Brother BBQ location at 407 Lewis Ave. The partners have already had a foothold in the neighborhood with Peaches, at 393 Lewis Ave.,  and the HotHouse at 415 Tompkins Ave.

And then there's Doris, at 1088 Fulton St., which is owned by a husband and wife team but counts Andy McDowell of Williamsburg's Pete's Candy Store as an investor.

Much of the change has to do with the price of commercial real estate in the neighborhood, which has stayed reasonable even as rents have climbed, Clark said.

The 3,000-square-foot Bedford Hall, for example, rents for about half as much as the modest 1,000-square-foot Mo's in Fort Greene, Clark said.

"There's a demand. There's available commercial space and there's affordable commercial space," Clark said. "I tell people, 'If you're looking for a good investment, come to Bedford Avenue while you can.'"

For others, the decision to move was more organic. Seth Wiley, one of the brothers who owns Glorietta Baldy, said the three settled on Bed-Stuy because it was a neighborhood they found themselves drawn to in their personal lives.

"If we're thinking about somewhere, it's usually somewhere we spend a good amount of time," Wiley said. "And for some reason we'd been spending more and more time [in Bed-Stuy]."

Glorietta Baldy, which opened in October, serves an ever-changing craft beer menu, along with some light food from vendors like B'klyn Burro. It's already become a popular choice in the neighborhood after a string of good press.

The more new businesses such as Glorietta Baldy become successful in the neighborhood, the more other bar and restaurant owners will follow suit, Wiley said.

"It becomes a self-reinforcing kind of thing," Wiley said. "When they hear, "OK, you're doing OK over there? Great, maybe I can do that, too.'"

Brooklyn Community Board 3 member Richard Flateau said he's already seen the demand increase "dramatically" in his five years as the board's economic development chair.

Flateau, who has lived in Bed-Stuy for most of his life and owns a real estate business, cites a more affordable commercial real estate market and a demand for services, along with access to public transportation. Glorietta Baldy, for example, is just steps from the Franklin Avenue C train and shuttle.

But he also said the increase in business is a natural and positive development.

"When you take a long view of how communities develop, it's not unusual," Flateau said. "Overall, I think the fact that you have more businesses and a greater variety is probably a plus."

That community development is something Clark said he's seen first hand. As a Fort Greene resident for 27 years, the business owner said he remembers a time when a night out meant hopping on the train and heading to Manhattan.

Now he hopes he can help add his own mark on Bed-Stuy's development.

"Communities are always changing," Clark said. "It's an opportunity to grow, and to grow with the changes that are going on in the neighborhood."