A Tea Lounge in Brooklyn Heights!

glassrightThe hip café and music venue Tea Lounge could come to Brooklyn Heights later this year, pending building permit and liquor license approval, its owner told the Brooklyn Heights Blog today.

Jonathan Spiel, who also owns Tea Lounge cafés in Park Slope and Cobble Hill, has his eye on a 4,000-square-foot hotspot at in the St. George Tower building, and hopes to bring in his concoction of a daytime café-turned-full bar and music venue at night to the neighborhood.

The Brooklyn Heights location is at 111 Hicks Street at the corner of Clark Street (in the old Palmira’s spot), and would be similar in size and event listings to the Park Slope one at 837 Union Street, but the space is divided into three rooms and can host private parties and multiple events simultaneously, Spiel explained.

The setting will also be kid-friendly, with blackboard paint on the walls and afterschool events featuring cartoons and milk and cookies, he added. There would be live music at night and a full bar for adults. And, of course, the spot will offer its famous free WiFi and big comfy couches for the area’s writers and readers.

Spiel said he is still trying to gauge neighborhood interest in a place like the Tea Lounge — so, what do you think? Would you want to see the Tea Lounge move into Brooklyn Heights?

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • DB

    To BHer and ABC, I moved to the heights 10 years ago. The nabe at that time was decidedly un-hip, filled mostly with aging wall streeters. I moved here because the proximity to lower Manhattan, the quiet streets, the low scale architecture and the prices. I am 40, married and child-free. Just wanted to point out that there were reasons to live in this nabe that go beyond children. Those of us without kids have just as much at stake in the neighborhood as the newly relocated families. It seems to me that Jonathon is trying to design a place that can appeal to all of us, and I like that.

  • Homer Fink

    Peter – this is close to the most commented story on BHB — some Busy Chef posts were active but not this active — from my preliminary research the most commented story ever (and there might be others) is Nightmare on Court Street:

  • Andrew

    If what I remember about this space, it is probably better suited for Tea Lounge than the Busy Chef/Oven spaces, because it is labyrinthian. Having different rooms makes it possible for the laptop crowd to gather in one area, with a bit of separation from the stroller set. Live music doesn’t necessarily dominate the entire room for late night law student studyers.

  • BHer

    DB – I like that too, but you’ve got to be realistic about where you live, and I think managing expectations is important. I too have been here for 10 years and am 40, but with two kids, 9 and 5. This neighborhood is a destination for families with kids, particularly because of the success of PS8. People used to flee when their kids were school aged, but now that the school is great, it gives more people options for education and affords them the ability to stay here longer.

    Trust me, when I am out without my kids, the last thing I want is to be surrounded by children. It is important to recognize though that during the daytime, especially in the morning hours and after school, there are going to be a lot of kids around! I have had very unpleasant run ins at Starbucks on Montague at 3:30 when I am with my kids. There are people there that feel like it is their office, and we are interrupting them.

    If the Tea Lounge can accommodate everyone in separate areas, they will definitely be on to something.

  • travy

    keep the kids out of the bar. that is all.

  • AEB

    No one hates children. Well, relatively few do.

    What people object to is the sense of entitlement that stroller moms (and others with children) sometimes exhibit.

    When I was growing up, almost (yikes!) fifty years ago, even middle-class parents had “help”–domestics and/or nannies. Child and adult “spheres” were more exclusively defined. One imagines the horror that would have have ensued then at the sight of a mother breast-feeding an infant in public, which thing I’ve seen several times recently.

    The point is, parents with children should respect the rights of those without not to have to participate in the kids rearing or even caretaking in certain places at certain times.

    And the “childless” should recognize that children are children and will act that way in public.

    But–or and–each side should have its places free of the other. And these should include, for adults, any spots devoted to…well, adult pleasures. Which would include after-dark dining of any kind.

  • nabeguy

    Might as well chime in…this sounds like a much-needed and highly desired addition to the area. I agree that the lPalmira ocation is something of a death spot, but it’s not like there was anything ever in that space that struck a defining chord in it’s audience (even though I liked the brunch at Stubs). Too bad the space at Pineapple and Henry is so barren and has no kitchen, …I think that would be a better fit, as it’s literally got an underground feeling to it (and solves the ramp problem) plus it’s on the commercial side of the
    St George.

  • DB

    BHer, I think we are on the same page actually (take a look at my previous posts). I think jonathon is trying to carve out spaces for everyone, which would be great.

    But I still resent the notion that is somehow odd or impractical for child-free adults to live in this neighborhood. The majority of the 18 units in our Co-Op have no children living in them. Are we supposed to be relegated to lower Manhattan just because we chose a life without children? You seem to be saying that just because I live in a certain hood, I have expect every business to be child centric. The great thing about urban settings is that they can accomodate a variety of lifestyles. That said, the one thing that is certainly missing in this nabe (since the closure of Magnetic Fields), is a music venue. I look forward to it’s arrival and hope that, while Tea Lounge will hopefully have areas for kids to cavort, we can all agree that a bar with jazz at night is not an appropriate setting for children.

  • BHer

    AEB, I agree with what you have said, but if you choose to live in the Heights, regardless of when you moved here, you’ve got to embrace the notion that there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood and have to expect that if you choose to patronize local establishments at certain hours, there are going to be kids present.

    The last place my husband I go for dinner alone is Noodle Pudding. We love it and go with the kids often (at 6:00), but I know better that to go there when I want a kid-free evening.

    What do you mean by “sense of entitlement”?

  • anon

    Don’t forget to add Brownstoner’s comments (17 as of this writing) in your Tea Lounge comment log: http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2009/03/tea_lounge_comi.php

  • BHer

    DB – Not child-centric, but if you live here, you have to expect kids to be around. That is what this neighborhood has become, like it or not. I would be very interested to know what percentage of households in the Heights have kids. There are 4 schools in the neighborhood that house several thousand kids. I bet it is pretty high. This is a very small geographic community that is sought out by families. I think it just needs to be embraced and one’s expectations need to go along with that notion.

    I certainly don’t always like to be around kids either, so I avoid places where I know kids will be when I am not with my own.

  • travy

    and to add, families with children who choose to live in nyc should expect that childless drinkers with foul mouths and sharp elbows live here as well and perhaps choose their destinations accordingly…

  • Grown Up

    AEB, sorry to break it to you, but if you grew up 50 years ago with a nanny/”domestic”, you weren’t middle class. And guess what, society has come a long way since the days when “that thing I’ve seen several times recently” (breastfeeding) was something to be ashamed of.

    It sounds to me like you’re sharing the never-grow-up mentality, not an “adult” viewpoint.

  • AEB

    Bher, by entitlement I mean the sense that one parent with one child (let’s say) trumps one or two (or more) adults without.

    This often applies to traffic issues, let’s call them. Recently a mother (I believe) pushing a child in a stroller was coming toward me on a fairly narrow sidewalk. She saw me, yet continued to barrel ahead.

    I planned to step aside in any case, but her forthright approach made it clear that she had no intention of ceding the “right to pass” to me anyway. This has happened before.

    Other “blocking” situations include parents parking strollers in such a way as to inhibit or prevent easy access into or out of a space. I realize strollers with children are a handful, but in that case, why not let adults without both to pass–to get out of the way–first?

    I would also take issue with you’re going to “adult” restaurants with kids at 6:00. That means you’ll still be dining at 7:00 or later…see where I’m going with this?

  • DB


    Kids around, fine with me. Kids in bars, not fine with me. Seems pretty simple.

    I don’t go hang out at dimples, the baby gym, or that kiddie place on Atlantic. I don’t expect kids to be hanging out in restaurants late-night or bars anytime. For the most part I find this to be true in this neighborhood. And again, it sounds like Jonathon is trying to provide space for everyone. I just hope that parents will understand that the bar is not the place for their kids to play.

  • AEB

    Grown Up, I suggest your comment, above, is just as parochial as you claim mine to be.

    I’m not sure that feeling free to breast-feed in public is a giant step for mankind. Ooops: womankind.

    Think about it.


  • etc

    Hells yeah! We’ll definitely be there – it’ll save us from having to drag ourselves to the East Village all the time.

    DB- Thanks for your comments. I am one of several people I know who moved to the neighborhood, not because it is “family friendly,” but because of other factors. As another childless (by choice) person in their 40s, and as a fan and frequenter of jazz and other live music venues I am thrilled at the idea of having good live music available in the neighborhood. I am also wary of mixing live music performances with children’s play spaces. I would like to be able to make the assumption that parents would not bring young children to bar with live music after about 9pm or so, or would encourage them to be quiet if they did, but unfortunately my experience has been the opposite. I’ve had far too many evenings ruined by parents who take their young children to evening music events (either so the parents can get out or can expose their kids to the music) and then completely fail to supervise them. For example, we went to see Van Morrison the other night and the kids in the family next to us spent the whole time talking, snapping gum and texting.

    This is not an “anti-child backlash”; I’d just like to find a way for those with children and those who choose not to have children to co-exist while recognizing each group’s desire to not have their leisure time activities ruined by the other groups’ feelings of entitlement. For example, although I am under no obligation to do so, I make an effort to restrain my behavior and speech when I am in an area where kids congregate, so that parents and their children will be comfortable there. I would expect parents to similarly respect my right to enjoy live music or other adult activities without being subject to kids running around, shouting, crying, etc. Just because families with children may seek out the neighborhood, doesn’t mean the rest of aren’t entitled to enjoy it too. My partner has lived in Brooklyn Heights for 38 years. Is he supposed to yield to children on every issue because there are more of them now?

  • ABC

    I moved here more than 10 years ago. Lots of kids then too. I’m in the “room for everyone” camp and only bring it up since this thread started out with people objecting to the idea of a kid-friendly place.

    AEB, LOL! If seeing a mom breastfeeding a baby is a shock to you, I’m afraid the world has passed you by. Is that part of the entitlement you’re talking about? The good news is you may be entering the old age crank stage of life — and Brooklyn Heights is a perfect place for that!

    Jonathon, stairs are an issue. People complain that the “entitled stroller moms” have taken the area over, but the truth is lots of restaurants here are either up a flight of stairs or down and aren’t all that kid-friendly (thus making those on grade level more crowded than kids than usual). Still, if you build it, they will come — even if they have to carry their stroller..

  • BHer

    AEB – I wouldn’t blame the fact that these rude people are pushing strollers is what’s making them rude, I think it is the people to begin with.

  • ABC

    AEB, the restaurants in this area are having a hard time as it is. And now you can’t bring kids at 6? SIX? LOL. I’ve lived in this area with kids and without. Been out many nights at 8, 9, 10, 11pm for dinner and never had a problem with kids. But 6? SIX PM? C’mon. 7PM is dangerously close to early bird special territory, my cranky friend.

  • zb

    Tea Lounge sounds great for the nabe. We need a lively venue where people can gather. But please keep the kids separate in the evening. People (parents included) need a place to gather without ill-behaved screaming tots running around. Parents that think its OK to bring a kid to a bar are those that don’t teach their children how to behave in public. Lets hope there are less of them in BH than in Park Slope.

  • AEB

    A good point, Bher. But it’s happened often enough for me to concoct a cause-effect scenario.

    But I will try to be less strollophobic.

  • sue

    I think the venue sounds great — I was a fan of Kevin’s Corner (which lasted a pretty long time at that location) and this sounds like a vast improvement. I agree that accommodating parents and families in the daytime is a great idea, and agree with DB that a bar with jazz at night would not be an appropriate setting for children (but very appropriate for me!) Having lived here for 43 years, I can’t recall any other site with such a wide array of offerings. Good luck, Jonathan!

  • AEB

    ABC, congrats on being as free as a bird.

    In any case, a little crankiness now and then is relished by the wisest…people.

    I could “retaliate” by claiming ageism, but I won’t. ‘Cause that’s the kind of guy I’m.

  • Clarksy

    I’d appreciate a music venue coming to the neighborhood, and I’ll definitely check it out once it’s open. Living on Clark Street, however, I’m selfishly a bit wary about the extra noise that such a business inevitably brings. But it sounds like this place is going to be pretty low-key, which I love.

  • http://www.tealoungeny.com jonathan

    i want to assure all of you, while it will be kid friendly i’m not anticipating interference with your enjoyment.

  • nabeguy

    johnathan, all you’ve got to do is build a go-go cage for the bar crowd and a padded cage for the kids. Joking aside, you definitely seem to be headed in the right direction, so don’t let the bickering on this site deter you….it’s what we do.

  • FeiFei

    AEB – your comment about breastfeeding in public is so funny. I completely disagree with you, but to envision your face and reaction as you see a woman breastfeed her child is really amusing.

    Jonathan – Can you improve the coffee that you use at Tea Lounge? I understand you use organic and free trade coffee but it doesn’t taste very good. We didn’t like the coffee served at Tea Lounge on 9th St. and 7th Ave so we took our business elsewhere. Red Horse served Barrington coffee (and sold bags of it) and had baristas who knew what they were doing so that was our favorite place. Someone said that [BH] locals do not go to Starbucks, but as a local, I go to Starbucks three times a week because their coffee tastes better than the coffee sold at the A/C subway stand, Tazza, Cranberry’s and the now closed Busy Chef.

    As for the live music, my partner and I wouldn’t go because we’re not into that, but I welcome the addition to the neighborhood and wish you luck!

  • BHer

    Totally agree with the coffee issue! I’ve never been to Tea Lounge, Starbucks is the only place in the Heights to get a good, strong cup. I would love to take my business elsewhere! Even Tazza isn’t great. There really isn’t anywhere near Clark St. to get a great cup.

  • HG718

    How exciting! My husband is often saying that he’d love it if there was a jazz club in the area. We would definitely love another place to go out at night, since the area is very much lacking that. But we are also hoping that we are lucky enough to have a baby soon – so this concept would fulfill that need too. You’ve got my vote!