Smith Street is not so ‘Bueno’ anymore

The Brooklyn Paper
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The pioneer of the Smith Street foodie scene has abandoned Brooklyn — and another restaurant legend says he’s heading out the door, too.

Jim Mamary, the restaurateur who built a French empire along the previously desolate strip in the late 1990s, abruptly closed three of his eateries last week without warning anyone (including his workers!). Now he’s moving to New Jersey (yes, that New Jersey), the Real Deal reported last week. The result? Bueno and Since 1963 in Boerum Hill, Fly Fish in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and a handful of hungry workers join the ranks of Mamary’s ebbing empire.

That’s bad enough, but Alan Harding, one of Mamary’s brothers-in-arms in Smith Street’s heyday, told The Brooklyn Paper today that he’s going to join his pal in the Garden State as soon as humanly possible.

“My hat’s off to him — he wants to go enjoy his quality of life,” Harding said. “It’s getting a lot harder to make a buck in Brooklyn. Rents [on Smith Street] are predatory. I’m right behind him.”

The closing of Mamary’s eateries are following in the footsteps of Patois, Mamary and Harding’s pioneering French restaurant, whose garlic snails changed the street’s unsatisfied face forever.

It’s unclear exactly what Mamary plans to do with the five remaining restaurants in which he still holds stakes: Pomme de Terre, Gowanus Yacht Club, Black Mountain Wine House, Café Enduro and Zombie Hut.

And Harding still has a piece of the Gowanus Yacht Club in Carroll Gardens, Pacifico in Boerum Hill and Sweetwater in Williamsburg.

And even today, there are plenty of restaurant owners on Smith Street who still hold Mamary in the highest regard, even though Bueno et al just weren’t making the cut. Worse, Bueno broke the first commandment: Thou shalt not change thy name every two weeks.

“Bueno had great food,” said Maio Martinez, owner of Sample bar between Bergen and Wyckoff streets. “But it closed and opened a lot, [changing names from] Gravy to the Fish Shack to this.”

Martinez added that Mamary’s influence on the dining scene may have actually been his own downfall — restaurants springing up over the past five years on the strip have oversaturated the area with competition.

Her advice for would-be restaurateurs considering Smith Street?

“Go somewhere else,” she said.

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

sid from boerum hill says:
I am sorry to hear this. Its too bad that reasonable priced good food is becoming more difficult to find.
Dec. 10, 2009, 3:01 pm
Soosan from Brooklyn says:
Que malo! Restaurant in peace dude.
Dec. 10, 2009, 3:28 pm
Local Yokel from Cobble Hill says:
Good riddance. This complex always had awful food. Seemed dirty across the board. I heard there were rats in there and whoever was in the kitchen THOUGHT they knew how to cook and always tried to hard... Very happy to see them go. Byeeee.....

The only thing it was good for was to get some decent snow... wink wink.
Dec. 11, 2009, 9:24 am
Local Yokel from Cobble Hill says:
In it's defense. .. I assumed this was a part of the pizza place and mexican place and all that. If this was standalone I never tried it. But it was wrong anyway...
Dec. 11, 2009, 9:26 am
Chris from Boerum Hill says:
This is a great disappointment to me. I happily followed all three restaurants and Bueno was the best yet. The food delicious, atmosphere warm and excellent service all around. I'll miss them.
Dec. 11, 2009, 2:03 pm
Mr. Smith from Smith & Truth says:
This is the same Mamary and Harding whose sharp shoulders and brash attitude made opening up a small independent restaurant in Brownstone Brooklyn difficult since they ruled the roost and were far from welcoming? Screw them both. Go to Jersey and let other folks open restaurants in the area. No chains, but true family owned businesses.

Who ever thought a Mexican food place like Pacifico was owned by a tubby couple of dinks like this. Go away the both of you.
Dec. 12, 2009, 3:21 pm
shut your mouth, mr. smith from ex-carroll gardens says:
i worked for jimmy mamary. he was a tough dude to work for -in a jesus, i hope he has a stroke before he throws something at my face kind of way - but after a while i honestly grew to kind of love him, in a father figure kind of way. he didn't open chain restaurants; he was a constant presence in all of his businesses. not to mention every restaurant he opened had its own identity. he hired good people, he expected the best from them, and while his expectations (and that of the public) would with occasion not be met, you cannot say he wasn't successful pretty much across the board.

as for bueno, the good people who ran that restaurant have remained close friends of mine despite the fact that i live hundreds of miles away now, and they deserve better than a bunch of dummies dashing off half-wit criticisms.

and, local yokel? it's new york. you can't step out your front door without almost stepping on a rat. every restaurant i ever worked at in new york had rats. and i've worked at some fairly high-profile establishments. rats are gross little facts of life in new york.
Dec. 14, 2009, 12:54 am
BuenoBaddo from Carroll Gardens says:
Why is it so complicated to open a restaurant that Smith street actually needs? Open a burger pub. Chicken sticks. Beers. Fries. Ice cream. Can't lose. This place had no identity.
Dec. 14, 2009, 11:44 am
Waldorf from Astoria says:
Was Brooklyn always so downscale and humble? Did any of the filthy rich ever live here?
Dec. 14, 2009, 2:39 pm
Instant Karma from Boerum Hill says:
It never mattered whether the food was good or bad at Patois. Alan Harding was such a loud, foul-mouthed, obnoxious presence in the neighborhood. He was arrogant, unwelcoming, and lots of people assumed he was bi-polar or something. He would talk on his cell phone at the top of his lungs outside the restaurant, and every other word was F-this and F-that. If he doesn't have the sense not to do that among the locals, why would I assume he takes care with anything else, like his food, service, or how he treats his employees? The one time I ate there I thought all the waiters were miserable. It comes from the top. What a relief to have Provence on the block now, where the owners are sunny & friendly.
Dec. 21, 2009, 2:18 pm
wotta scumbag from brooklyn says:
good - get out of town , you fat-mouthed thief. How about paying the people who made Black Mountain look and feel so good? How about not using work you never paid for? Hope you get what you deserve in New Jersey, loser, and take that fat, foul-mouthed untalented chef with you, what an obnoxious twat....
Dec. 28, 2009, 5:51 pm

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