THE AUTHOR OF A COCKTAIL THAT DEFINED A DECADE TENDS THE LEGACY OF AN ATLANTIC AVENUE NIGHTLIFE FIXTURE THAT DEFINED AN ERA
BY JAMES TATE PHOTOS COURTESY OF AL RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY
In 2008, Toby Cecchini closed the doors of his Chelsea bar, Passerby. For the owner, widely recognized as the creator of the Cosmopolitan at Odeon in the late eighties, it was merely a hiatus.
By chance, just as Passerby’s lights went dark, Emma Sullivan, co owner of the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn Heights, was dimming the neon marquee above her iconic Atlantic Avenue institution for the last time. Sullivan, with her cousins Pepita and Maruja Fernández, had run the bar for 56 years. “Run,” emphasizes Cecchini, “without a single employee. Eight every morning to four every morning: they just ran it in shifts. They’re remarkable.”
When Cecchini’s business partner, Joel Tompkins, began leaving inquiries under the shuttered door, Sullivan initially declined. It was the introduction of Tompkins to her grand-son, owner of neighboring clothier Goose Barnacle, that led to a warm relationship between past and prospective owners and ultimately a lease.
“Everybody was assuming that it was going to be a bank or a nail salon,” said Cecchini, “and people have a gratitude that it’s intact.” The following year saw the new proprietors “pulling everything out just in order to put it all back exactly as it was.” A remodel with an eye to the space’s heritage came easily because, Cecchini said, “It was like they closed one day and never touched it again. There were tiny martini glasses on the shelves and a school desk under the bar. It’s a high volume bar now, but everything we built was era specific.”
The day before the reopening in 2013, Sullivan requested a tour. “All three ladies started crying,” Cecchini said, “which made me start crying, and they said ‘It looks like 1950 again!’’
The Long Island Bar
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