In a recent posting, we speculated on where the World Famous Cannabis Cafe intended to open on Foster. While the posting was mostly filler, it did lead to an interesting, albeit brief, conversation on Facebook. The few comments in response to the post weighed in on the merits of dispensaries (and the number of them on Foster) and their relation to the overall character of the neighborhood. Some were ok with it, some weren’t; some had greater appreciation for the less-polished version of our neighborhood than what some hope it to be. All natural responses, all valid.
Somehow, though, the conversation devolved with one commenter lambasting the bars on Foster, as well as making bold generalizations about their patrons. To quote them: “…Screw the dive bars and their alcoholic meth head patrons. May they someday grow up…”
Though we disagree with their assessments, we also felt it was food for thought. After all, Foster does have a lot of bars. A lot. And not all are created equal.
So we started thinking about some of our favorite pastimes. And then we realized our pastimes aren’t necessarily yours. (Just kiddiing—we’re not as big ‘a drinkers as we lead on to be. Or maybe we are—you’ll never know.)
In all seriousness, though, the comments led us to an old blog piece we posted more than three years ago (From Boozy to Hip). In that piece, we referenced an article posted by Good Magazine (There Flows the Neighborhood: Follow the Booze to the Next Big Block) in which they spoke on the value of bars in a neighborhood’s positive trajectory, and how they served as agents of change in a transforming area of Brooklyn. The article suggested the “improving” (read: gentrifying) character of the neighborhood had a lot to do with the amount of people being drawn to the street at night because of its bars, particularly 20- and 30- somethings.
While many will argue about whether Foster becoming a “scene” is a good thing or not, it’s obvious that without the bars, our stretch of road would not only be long, it would be long, dark and devoid of people at night. And without those people, we wouldn’t have the flirtings of restauranteurs seeking out places on Foster; rumors of the Day Theater showing movies some day; live music venues; and the general sense that something is happening here. In regards to the latter point, something is happening and, in theory, the trickle down effect is game stores, Tango studios, performance space, music venues, record stores, and places to eat. Sure, bars do not plant the seeds of change per se, but the article suggested they create enough of a social scene and energy that it produces a draw of sorts. And that draw, they say, is a net positive for the neighborhood.
On Foster, at this point, our bars may be our best asset—our strongest draw. Again, not all bars are created equal, but there are a certain few that add obvious benefit to the neighborhood: live music, events that attract people to Foster at night, food, a third space for relaxing after a long day or week at work, trivia, karaoke, art openings.
Not all appreciate the bars on Foster, though. And that’s ok. So we thought we’d pose the question to you, the readers: what do the bars on Foster mean to you?
Are they dens of debauchery and evil? Do they enliven Foster and bring value? Too many, not enough, or just right?