Heights History: The Promenade Restaurant On Montague Street

Before the popular Heights Cafe opened at 84 Montague Street and Hicks Street, there was The Promenade Restaurant—teeming with 1970s (1980s?) charisma. A sign at the corner entrance boasts Steaks, Chops and Seafood, while in the postcard image above, you’ll note there was also a second doorway on the Montague Street side, advertising Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Inside, thick gold drapes hung in the windows, along with vinyl booths lining the premises, complete with coat hooks, chandeliers against the walls and glass globes over tables. The back of the restaurant’s postcard offers, “10 minutes from Downtown Manhattan. In the historic Brooklyn Heights section. Full menu at reasonable prices. Greek specialties, wines, liquors, cocktails.” The joint’s hours: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. Its also intriguing to note that The Promenade had a 212 telephone exchange. Who knew (and who remembers)? This updates a 2009 BHB post with photo immediately below from Melanie Hope Greenberg. Following Melanie’s photo are a contemporary view of the Heights Cafe, and a vintage Promenade Restaurant posstcard.

Above, Melanie Hope Greenberg’s image of the Hicks Street side of The Promenade Restaurant. Below, photo of the Heights Cafe by Chuck Taylor, winter 2009.

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • GHB

    If you edit out all the whining and copmplaining, you’ll probably see four or five about the actual topic.
    @Barbara S – Thank you for your comments. I always like to hear about the Heights and its history from before I arrived!

  • Master Of Middagh

    @DoM- Good suggestions, actually. Thank you. And I will genuinely keep them in mind. Only a fool would say they’re putting on a show and then totally ignore what their audience might prefer. After all, I only insulted that unpleasant woman for YOUR benefit- you’re welcome. ;)

  • Gerry

    The handsome younger guy who ran The Promeande his name was Andy and the Eggs Benedict was my favorite.

  • Quinn Raymond

    I really enjoy these posts about Brooklyn Heights back in the day. Keep them coming!

  • Carlotta

    I’m very sorry to say that my memory of the Promenade Restaurant has gone the way of a great many of my words, but – I do believe that Kleiman Spector was on that corner. Am I right? I’m In BH since 1965.

  • She’s Crafty

    Does anyone remember By George! which was where the Gristede’s pharmacy is now? Why were there so many things named George in the area/

  • weegee

    Besides the obvious connection of the restaurant being right “by” the St. “George” Hotel, I have faint memories of my grandfather speaking to the boss there by name, calling him “George.” Any confirmations/denials?

  • bornhere

    I think Barabara Shernoff’s and Another Barabra’s posts are excellent — and accurate (I also took issue with Frankel’s 2011 post last year).

    For me, at least, the Heights has always been an exceptional neighborhood, which, until the recent (unfortunate) over-building (and the equally unfortunate 1960s razing of Fulton and Henry Streets), has been remarkable for its consistency; “gentrification,” I thought, affects neighborhoods that are rundown, neglected, etc., and reclaimed by “monied people” with slightly over-evolved senses of their own importance. Even taking into consideration the changes over a 40- or 50-year period with the St. George Hotel and the SRO experiments, the Heights has always been a glorious place to live.

    I sometimes think that people who do not have a sense of Brooklyn’s history are stunned to see a neighborhood like BH, and, as they ignore the beautiful pre-war apartment buildings and older brownstones, etc., think that their very presence must necessarily be responsible for what has been, for well over a century, a magnificent area.

    As a kid growing up here, I do admit I wanted my parents to buy a house on President or Carroll Street, or somewhere in Flatbush; but, as an adult, I am so grateful that they didn’t, and that I have had the opportunity to live here from my day 1 and to raise my son here (and take him to The Promenade, Old Hungary, and By George!).

    Does anyone remember a diner of sorts on Henry, maybe between Orange and Cranberry Streets?

  • KT

    What year did the Promenade Restaurant close? I remember it from when I first moved here in the early 90’s, but don’t recall when it closed or why. I also love hearing about the history of BH from those that remember it when, keep it coming!

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    The Promenade Restaurant was my frequent stop after a long session at my favorite Village bar, the Lion’s Head (which Nabeguy also remembers). It was on my way from the Clark Street subway stop to my home on Montague, and, if I felt the need for a wee-hours snack, I’d go in and order a grilled cheese and ham. I noticed that my checks always said “GAC ham”, so after a while I simply asked for “gack ham.” The counterman corrected me, and said it was “jack ham.” That seemed appropriate, as the food and the copious amounts of water I drank with it kept me from waking up feeling like my head was being jackhammered.

  • shamrock

    Thanks, Barbara Chernoff for the wonderful post. I always enjoy hearing about the Heights history.

    I too was a bit confused when I read on the blog sometime back the reference made to “whole blocks of boarded up buildings” in the Heights. Haven’t a clue where that might have been, other than the old movie theater for a short while (but blocks???).

    The old Promenade Restaurant was wonderful, had a lot of character. I’ll always remember those wonderful “Lumberjack Specials” too.

  • http://Kleinman-Spector Heightsguy

    was not on the corner of Heights Cafe, but where Crumbs is now, and before that Heights Books.

    Here’s one: The one story Thai place on Montague was Silver’s stationary, then for years JoMel stationary (owned by Joe and Mel), then a Chinese restaurant. (Changs?)

    Down the block from Heights Cafe was the childrens bookstore owned by the late and lamented Bob Tramonte.

  • PromGal

    No article about the Promenade Restaurant/ coffee shop would be complete without a mention of Mollie, the cashier. She was a fixture in the neighborhood with husband Herbie, and little poodle. Herbie was a waiter in a longtime waiter at an Italian restaurant in Little Italy.
    Mollie was a true Brooklyn character, the gum chewing, wise cracking blond. She and Herbie were a true Jack Spratt couple!
    The food and ambiance at the Promenade was sad and downtrodden, but it was a neighborhood fixture for older folks and solo diners for many years.

  • BronxKid

    I have good memories of dining at the Promenade Restaurant long before I moved here from another part of Brooklyn. When my mother was alive, she and I would walk to the Heights, stroll along the “esplanade” and then stop at the Promenade for grilled cheese sandwiches and cups of tea before heading home. Not fancy, but a place where we always felt welcome and were never rushed.

    I remember Mollie the cashier! A true NY character.

    And I agree that comments on this blog are often mean spirited!

  • Nabeguy

    Speaking of cashiers, maybe Barbara remembers Josie at Picadelli’s. She had the requisite bee-hive do, cats-eye-glasses smoked Benson & Hedges 100’s like a chimney, and was always whistling a happy tune. The Promenade was there as far back as I can remember to the early 60’s…always a reliable, if not spectacular, source for the Greek diner-cum-restaurant standbys. The butcher was on the SW corner of Montague and Henry where the realtor now is, diagonally across from the King George restaurant-pizzaria-ice-cream trifecta and directly opposite Baskin-Robbins, where Spike Lee used to scoop Rocky Road before embarking on his own road to fame.

  • Nabeguy

    The restaurant choice back then on Montague were somewhat reflective of the neighborhood itself…diverse. There was Armando’s of course, but also Foffe’s, Old Hungary, Old Mexico, the New China Tea Cup for Cantonese, the Hamburger Stop that delivered it’s victuals on a little train.

  • Jorale-man

    I would take some issue with the claim that Brooklyn Heights never went through a somewhat seedy/dangerous period. Granted, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the surrounding neighborhoods, but a quick search of the NY Times archives shows several articles on the spate of welfare hotels in the neighborhood:



    There was also apparently a strip club in the St. George Hotel in the 1980s. But the switch from bookstores, bars and old diners on Montague to more chain establishments like Crumbs and Anne Taylor is probably the most visible indicator of the area’s turnaround (for better and for worse), in the last 2 decades or so.

  • AnnOfOrange

    Thanks for the info regarding location of the butcher shop (Henry and Montague) as I wrote, I began to think I had forgotten exactly where it was located. Ah…Cousin Arthur’s little book store, such a treasure. Thanks for sharing the memories.

    Does anyone remember the toy store where Pet’s Emporium is located? So much fun sitting on the floor to play and read on the second level! The Toan family who owned the store still live in BH.

  • Nabeguy

    Jorale-man, both your links are to articles from the early 70’s, a period when the Heights, like the rest of the city, was not immune to a vast economic downturn and one that was reflected mostly in commercial terms. Yes, Club Wild Fyre did exist. And, truth be told, there was a prevalent mob influence back then, as surprising as that may sound, with Clark Street being something of a cynosure of seediness. By George!, Clark Street Station, and the notorious Wild Fyre were all under their “influence” and I’m sure there were more, including the gay bars in the area (yes, they existed too). But it would be a mistake to confuse the commercial with the residential of that time. Yes, the Franklin Arms, and eventually, the St. George, descended into being “welfare” hotels, but given the economy, the landlords took what they could at a time when the policy of housing the poor got so out of control that the city was renting motel rooms in Secaucus to provide for them. It was definitely a rough period, with opportunists, both criminal and political, taking advantage of a distressed market, and there were certainly a lot of properties that were sold at below market value (think JW’s). But here we are, 40 years later, and the Heights has once again risen to the top of the market. It has, and always will, ride the cyclical market, and always somehow survive.

  • http://loscalzo.posterous.com Homer Fink

    And for those of you who didn’t catch our post about the 1975 Montague Street survey:

    Chock a block with old timey info!

  • weegee

    Ann –

    The venerable Kookla’s! Certainly remember it…for some reason, in particular, I remember a retractable gate at the top of the stairs (did I get my finger caught in it once? It was the days before lawsuits, so I can’t be sure…)

    I seem to remember the Toans being affiliated with another toy store on Montague, where we used to get our Slap Bracelets in 1990, and various Lego-type things.

  • lois

    Ann of Orange and Carlotta, before the Promenade restaurant, the Plymouth Drug store owned by Mr. Goldstein was there (it later moved diagonally across the street up the steps. Kleinman’s Drug Store was in the middle of Montague between Henry and Hicks and Spector’s Drug Store (with soda fountain) was on the NE corner of Montague and Henry (where Ann Taylor is now. They later merged to become Kleiman/Spectors before closing. BTW, on the second floor above where Ann Taylor is, there was a private high school called Brooklyn Academy.

  • lois

    Weegee, I believe the toy store on Montague between Clinton and Henry was called Capulet’s (referring to the previous name of Montague Street.) It was owned by Mmes. Toan and Shippers.

  • bornhere

    Lois — I am totally lost; Capulet’s was a bar on Montague Street (which has always been called Montague), and the only school I can think of was York Academy, which was above The Promenade Restaurant on Hicks. Brooklyn Academy was in Fort Green.

    Two stores in the former Pet Emporium/Kookla’s were Jelly Beans and Kazootie’s. Although I might be hallucinating the latter. Maybe I’m hallucinating all of this….

    Yes, Weegee, there was a gate. That much I am sure of.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    Capulets was bar not a toy store and not the former name of Montague St, which was “Constable St.” pre 1850’s…

  • weegee

    Montague had originally been “Constable St.” until the Pierreponts changed it.

    I think the toy store of which I speak was in the Crumbs space…it was something of a wide storefront (not as narrow as Kookla’s) and was a contemporary of Kleinman-Spector.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    And yes, the York Academy was above the Promenade Restaurant.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    The “Toy Store” was probably “Jo-Mel’s” AKA “Silvers” which was a News, stationery, card, candy and toy store where the Thai restaurant is…

  • She’s Crafty

    Does anyone remember when Perelandra was where Irene DInov is now? And Lenny’s where Loft was? And, there was a record store next to Lenny’s…at that time albums cost $3.99. Boy, I am dating myself. I think it was replaced by a shoe store.

  • lois

    Yes York Academy was above where the Promenade Restaurant was but Brooklyn Academy was definitely on the second floor above where Ann Taylor is now. It was there thru the 50s, then moved to the Brooklyn Academy of Music Building and then to a location in Coney Island.