It was a cold night on Sunday, but it was warm inside Bruar Falls. Nick Bodor, the owner, sat at the far end of the bar, the one he’d built. It might very well be for the last time because Bruar Falls closes today, November 1. “I never would have guessed two years ago that it wouldn’t have worked out,” says Bodor, nursing a Budweiser. He’s somewhere in the five stages of grief, he says. “I forget which one, still grieving I guess,” he laughs. After two years of trying to get Bruar off the ground, Bodor will be leaving Brooklyn to go back to Manhattan to focus on his other bars, Cake Shop and the Library, both in the Bowery.
Going back to the beginning, when Chairlift played Bruar’s grand opening, there was little worry, or seeming possibility, that things could go wrong. Everything was in place: a great location, a good landlord, a reasonable lease, not to mention years of experience in starting and running a business. Bruar was poised to be a legitimate hub of the DIY scene. But as time went on, costs mounted, income slackened and tension remained constant. Internal struggles too contributed to the venue’s closing. Originally, Bodor envisioned it as a cafe during the day and a bar and venue at night. This however could not be agreed upon. “I should have made it very clear that we would not see anything for the first few years,” he says. “These things take time to germinate.” Bodor was partnered in the business with his brother, Andy, and another investor, John Cutillo. The Bodor brothers will be selling their shares in the bar to Cutillo, and Nick is unsure what shape the space at 245 Grand St. will take next, possibly a bar/restaurant. When we last spoke to him, he said he would suffer no financial loss but now says that is no longer true.
The first band of the night, Air Waves, is tuning up onstage behind Bodor. There are people at the bar but no one yet on the dance floor. In the final weeks, people were offering their condolences, expressing the same surprise at the bar’s missed success. “They discovered it too late,” he explains. Bodor had hoped the CMJ Marathon and the final five shows might boost revenue enough to make leaving not entirely painful. “We didn’t finish quite as strong as we’d hoped,” says Bodor. He admits though he’s not leaving completely empty-handed.
Valuable lessons were extracted from the experience. For instance, happy hours are not very big in Brooklyn. People getting off work in Manhattan are more likely to drink there than at a bar close to home. Bodor has never lived more than seven blocks from any business he’s run, until Bruar Falls. “Not being immersed in the neighborhood brought some unexpected hurdles,” says Bodor. He told us he’s working on a new project, one he’s not ready to announce but said he is excited about. Bodor still very much believes in the idea of Bruar Falls. “Does there need to be a physical place to set up a scene? My answer is yes.”