New Moe’s owner promises a ‘neighborhood’ bar

The Brooklyn Paper
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Devoted regulars raised a glass in tribute to the comfortable Fort Greene joint Moe’s at its closing last Wednesday — and the new operators may be willing to drink to that.

Hundreds packed into the corner bar at Lafayette and S. Portland avenues for its official “last call,” to mourn the loss of a decade-old bar famous for its being a real neighborhood bar.

“Moe’s feels like family,” said gin-sipping regular Maya Ogunusi. “It’s relaxed and ethnically diverse — and that’s what Fort Greene is all about.”

New operators — who first planned to morph the bar into an upscale club called “Navada” — now say they agree.

They promise to keep the watering hole as-is, saying they might keep Moe’s good name.

“It already has a formula that works,” said Calvin Clark, who inked a lease for the $1,100-per month venue last week. “I want it to stay friendly and unpretenti­ous.”

The new lease comes after previous operators were “priced out” of the venue a couple months ago, causing a battle with the landlord and subsequent media blitz.

Clark got word the space was about to free up and, with a partner, hatched a plan to remodel the interior into something a bit more posh. Regulars were appalled.

“This is Brooklyn — don’t try to be Manhattan,” said Lakie-Karriem Grant, who likes to watch basketball games at Moe’s. “You do that and you lose your identity.”

Clark now says that he wants to keep it “a neighborhood bar” though he wants to serve appetizers. It will likely open on Memorial Day weekend with a big bash.

Landlord James McDowell shed a bit more light, adding that Clark still plans to give the place an interior makeover.

“I don’t know exactly what his intentions are,” he said. “But I know he will have his own twist.”

Updated 12:11 pm, May 2, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

Glark from Boerum Himm says:
If the rent for that space is eleven hundred dollars, I'll eat my hat.
May 2, 2011, 8:38 am
bd from fort greene says:
there's SO much BS in THIS story and all the others surrounding this space. Don't believe ANYthing you hear OR read!
May 2, 2011, 9:03 am
JackTripper from Fort Greene says:
"They promise to keep the watering hole as-is, saying they might keep Moe’s good name."

Mr. Clark, attempt this and incur an even mightier wrath from hundreds of Fort Greene locals. There's already a devoted campaign afoot to ensure that your new business does not succeed, so please do not make it worse for yourself. Just go ahead and open your crappy bar ("now with appetizers!"), and do not profane Moe's legacy.
May 2, 2011, 9:15 am
Alex from Fort Greene says:
Scrap this place and make something new. Moe's has sucked since day 1. The crowd their is a pseudo intellectual "local" crowd whoa rent even originally from NYC or Brooklyn.... peace our cub scout. So glad to see this place go.
May 2, 2011, 9:19 am
RAW from Fort Greene says:
The landlord is an ass and really made a horrible decision to remove this institution. I am disgusted that he would even consider keeping the name the same. What a slimeball. @Alex - clearly, you are not the type of person that would appreciate the uniqueness that was found at Moe's. I'm glad you didn't like it. Go back where you came from.
May 2, 2011, 10:05 am
Alex from Fort Greene says:
@RAW... actually I was born in the neighborhood and lived in NYC my entire life. Been in Fort Greene since 99. Want to talk about a real neighborhood... then go to Rope or Frank's... Not the joke of a bar that Moe's was... good riddance.
May 2, 2011, 10:14 am
Josh from Fort Greene says:
I agree with Alex. Not sure what the big deal was about Moe's. Just another bar that wasn't maintained too well. Plenty of other options these days, which is why I'm guessing it closed. Bring on something new. This place was done.
May 2, 2011, 10:45 am
Frank from Fort Greene says:
There are plenty of people who GREW UP in the neighborhood who cherished Moe's (I am one of them). I'm so tired of certain people--who by my standards are NEW to the neighborhood--having these things to say. Frank's is cool and Rope, but there was plenty of room for Moe's, which has been around for 10 years. It was diverse and welcoming to all.

I have many colorful words for Calvin, but I'll refrain from saying them here (just use your imagination). There should be some legal laws against him being able to keep the name. He's been pompously going around telling people that he's "taking over the place" (as if some deal was made with the original owners, which is NOT TRUE). They did not purchase rights to the name. It's disgusting what they're trying to do. He is a weak person who doesn't have the balls to try to make a business from the sweat of his own brow. Some man.
May 2, 2011, 10:46 am
Josh from Fort Greene says:
That's cool, Frank, but let it be known that some of us will not miss Moes and don't understand what the big deal was. The bartenders were rude and the place needed to be fixed up.
May 2, 2011, 10:56 am
Dave from Clinton Hill says:
Tried Moe's numerous times and it always made you feel like you were at someone else's party and who invited you there, my friends all felt the same thing. I've been in the 'hood since '89 so I'm hardly new here, just my opinion on the place. The Emerson on Myrtle is just as diverse and has a way more friendly neighborhood vibe.
May 2, 2011, 11:07 am
Napoleon from Clinton Hill says:
I'm a relative newbie to the neighborhood and NYC as a whole, having only lived here four years. I can honestly say that I found Moe's to be very welcoming and diverse. The regulars were friendly, the staff was pleasant. In all my four years, Moe's was my regular watering hole and it was a pleasure to give them my business.

I cannot say the same for other places like Frank's, Rope or Alibi—yet you won't find me badmouthing those places either. As Frank stated above, there was room for all of these different places (and their unique cultures) to thrive. I will certainly miss Moe's.
May 2, 2011, 12:45 pm
Moe from Fort Greene says:
I see both sides of the fence and everyone is entitled to their own opinion about Moe's, though those that result to childish name-calling (such as "pseudo intellectual") about individuals they do not know were definitely not the type of people that the place was about and I am glad that those people weren't regulars. And Calvin's pompous bragging about taking over "ownership" of Moe's for months before anything was discussed as well as going as far to approach multiple staff members to keep the illusion also reflects the type of individual that was rarely (if at all seen) there as well.

One thing I will say is the hogwash that's been spread around about how things went down. The main thing is that Moe's WAS NOT priced out - in fact, they were willing to go ABOVE the selling price. They were forced out by a landlord on his way to jail for multiple felonies, both state AND federal (which is representative of character). And that it's doubtful they will have all of the necessary permits by Memorial Day (the part about the permits is hearsay at the moment and I can not stand by it as fact - but how exactly can a bar open within less than one month and have ALL necessary permits procured?), so it they do open, it will be illegal as is. And along with this, the landlord threatened legal action if Moe's took the physical wooden bar from the space because he sold Calvin on the idea that he was buying Moe's and wanted to create that illusion.

Overall. It's business and things will fall as they do, but the facts remain that 1) Ruby and Chelsea were FORCEFULLY moved out of the space. 2) This is NOT a new ownership of Moe's, it is an entirely new bar altogether 3) all of the regulars have made the decision that they will NEVER return because of the way that this went down.
May 2, 2011, 12:52 pm
Peter from Fort Greene says:
I'm confused. If Moe's already had "a formula that works," then why did it close? And how would keeping that formula but changing the name/ownership make it successful? Not to mention that none of the regulars want anything to do with the new incarnation.

I went to Moe's once and liked the relaxed vibe, but was disappointed by warm, stale-tasting beer and wished they had a few more varieties on tap. If the new place can focus a bit more on their tap lines and keep a 2-for-1 happy hour I'll be there.
May 2, 2011, 12:53 pm
Moe from Fort Greene says:
And there seems to be a type-o in your article: $1,100 a month? It is at least $11,000 a month, and again, the owners were willing to put up more than that.

@Peter: read my response above to answer your questions. And thank you for your kind words about the vibe, and yes, we'd mostly agree with you about the beer that it wasn't always the best, but we were there for the atmosphere and friends that made the libations taste good.
May 2, 2011, 1:12 pm
RAW from Fort Greene says:
@Josh and Alex - my point exactly. the thing I love about moe's is it repelled wack gentrifiers like you both. Go back to your BS bars with all the other bearded bastards that don't know sh-t about what a good bar is all about. Folks like you talk about diversity but sound like the same homogenic who probably brag about having a black friend. Yuck.
May 2, 2011, 3:26 pm
Josh from Fort Greene says:
RAW: Thanks for proving our point. Real friendly. Yuck.
May 2, 2011, 4:33 pm
Sid from Flatbush/Ft Greene says:
I teach around the corner at Brooklyn Tech and will miss hanging out with colleagues on Frday afternoons. The comfortable atmosphere & friendly bartenders were very welcoming.
May 2, 2011, 5:02 pm
Alex from Fort Greene says:
Really RAW? Really? That's your response... You proved our point transplant... You played yourself. I've lived here for years and was born here in Fort Greene. Sorry you are losing your sad drinking hole that sucked in the first place.
May 2, 2011, 7:25 pm
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
You fools who bad mouth Moe's , you knows nothing. Moe's was the only bar, I called my own. I have never been to Moe's and felt unwelcome. I usually hang solo. Moe's was the perfect place to meet someone. Feel at home. If you didn't like Moe's, then you clearly have no social skills. I have seen the faces of NYC in Moe's. I have met Lawyers, ADA, Artist, Business & everyday people in Moe's. Very sad. Only Frank's Place remains from the old Fort Greene??
May 2, 2011, 8:36 pm
Lida from Fulton says:
Moe Shmoe, who care where you will get you face wasted
—— Moe
May 2, 2011, 10:21 pm
original from fort greene says:
Calvin Clark operationed like a thief in the night. He was tacky and very unprofessional to Moes patrons and staff. Just remember what goes around comes around....We do not need a Gay Carribean bar owner trying to upscale his live on the footstool of others - Langston Hugh must be turning in his grave... I wish you well!
May 6, 2011, 11:51 am
The Hill from clinton hill/fort greene says:
Is Navada a word? Now you know what you are deal with - need we say more...
May 6, 2011, 12:10 pm
Calvin Bamboozled from Brooklyn Arena Yeah Right says:
Once the landlord idiot(James Mcdowell)goes to jail. ALL of his property will be liquidated. The idiots who decided to sign the lease should have checked out his criminal charges>
In other words.. Calvin & Company .. hurry up fix those floors and maybe, just maybe you might be able to operate for about 5 months before 80 lafayette gets seized by the city.
May 12, 2011, 6 pm
DKNY from Clinton Hill says:
I met Calvin, was a nice guy. He said Mos' Def was gonna be at his grand opening so the name fit. Looks promising so stop hating!
June 18, 2011, 4:34 pm
Roni from Ft.Greene says:
Just left the soft opening of the bar. It is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!
The interior design is phenomenal....attention to detail was absolutely unreal ! The music was awesome. The staff was very kind and attentive.
When the old owners (of Moe's) ran it, I never frequented the bar because it always looked seedy and dirty.

The new owners (of "Mo's") did a remarkable job at transforming the bar into a peudo-sanctuary !
June 22, 2011, 8:55 pm
Original from Moe's says:
@ DKNY... Sorry to bust a bubble but Mos Def frequented Moe's many times in the past. So him showing up to "Navada's" grand opening is nothing new. And please believe that the place will be called Navadas until/unless they pay the $$ to change the name one expensive liquor license. .. And as of June 22nd they haven't done so ..
June 28, 2011, 2:44 pm
NoMoreMo's from Fort Greene says:
Was there at their so-called 'soft opening' last Tuesday. The crowd were stiff and not very merry. The owners were scattered everywhere. One in particular is a lady - and from what I was told, she is NOT a investing owner. She is merely there to be a 'spokesperson' whatever that means. The music was bearable, but the sound system atrocious!

The vibe is no longer the old welcoming, friendly Moe's, it is very unwelcoming, badly decorated and frigid. The 'spokesperson' acted like she was a female of Donald Trump! Not very friendly, but oozing stoic, 'I am better than you' attitudes. I for one will not return to this spot as it is NOT the same anymore.....they say it's the people that makes an establishment a success...from what I have read here, the new Mo's needs more than that!
July 31, 2011, 7:35 pm
Laurence P from Harlem says:
I lived in Ft. Greene for 7 years and went to Moe's twice. It is sad to see people defame the name of the new owner before he even got started. Seems quite racist to me but what else is new in NYC.
Aug. 3, 2011, 9:57 am
Smiles from Tribeca says:
I do not know the history of the establishment nor the details behind the recent "re-opening". However, I was greeted by one of the owners, the staff was gracious and personable, and the patrons made me feel welcomed.
My friends and I felt welcomed and comfortable. In fact, We LOVED it!
Perhaps, we should refrain from the negativities...and be more supportive....give it a chance?
Again, I do not know the history nor am I in the neighborhood, but I give it two thumbs up :-)

Lets love and let live....
Aug. 3, 2011, 9:45 pm
Kelly from Broolyn!!! says:
I think it's a great idea that Moes Bar has Been changed over to new owners, the last staff they had where terrible, and very nasty to the paying customers, and i hope Calvin doesn't keep them on...
I stopped going there 2 years ago because of the terrible service, but now since hearing this great news about new owner ship, i will definitely become a regular again...

Feb. 28, 2012, 6:01 pm

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