Pete’s Waterfront Ale House is Changing Ownership, Adding Pizza to the Menu, Longtime Staffers “Re-interviewing” for their Jobs

For those not familiar with Pete’s Waterfront Ale House, the Atlantic Avenue bar has been a neighborhood staple for almost two decades. It is owned by Sam Barbieri, who was classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Pete’s is known for its extensive beer list, BBQ (the bar has its own smoker), homemade hot sauce, “Sammy’s Serious Eggnog” and live music on Monday nights. But all that is about to change.

When Homer asked me to get the scoop on Pete’s changing hands and allegedly becoming a pizza joint, my initial thought was “what the heck is Brooklyn Heights going to do another pizza place? Table 87 and Luzzo’s right down the block!”

As the mother of a preschooler, I don’t go out after dark very often, especially not during the week. And, I love walking in the city at night. So, I decided to go get a drink and do some reconnaissance. Tuesday night was atmospheric, and a little misty. Nostalgic even. It was the perfect weather to chill out in a warm bar and have friendly conversation. After a brisk walk down Clinton Street, that’s just what I found at Pete’s. I was immediately offered a seat at the bar, ordered a glass of wine and listened.

Beer selection at Pete’s

The clientele was definitely “of a certain age” and were gathered in groups at tables or chatting at the rail. It was clear change in ownership came as a surprise to patrons and staff alike. I overheard “end of an era” many times. David, a 15-year veteran, breezed in for a quick drink and exclaimed, “it’s the last days of the Waterfront Tavern! I’m traumatized!” Another lamented “they’re not going to be open New Year’s Day for Dimitri & The Black Coffee Blues band!”

It was at this point that I outed myself as a “journalist” and joined in. Mary, our affable bartender has been at Pete’s since 1997. It has seen her through “one engagement, one husband, three children and 572 [Facebook] friends” during her tenure. When she wasn’t skillfully balancing drink orders and conversation, I was able to find out what everyone wanted to know.

Ian and Monica

The deal will close sometime at the end of December and the bar will be under renovation for “about a month.” The new owner is Restaurateur Antonio Gomez. He is the proprietor of several Manhattan pizzerias Posto, Gruppo, Vezzo, Spunto and Tappo along with Latin eatery, Mezcla. Gomez is apparently keeping the “Pete’s Ale House” name ( a testament to the brand in my opinion) and would like to add pizza to the menu while maintaining the alehouse roots (the bar’s smoker is also part of the deal). Mary seemed optimistic that the vibe could be maintained and explained that Gomez is “supposedly re-interviewing everyone.”

I’m not sure if it was the warm-fuzzy from the half glass of eggnog I enjoyed but there was a palpable sense of family and friendship that night. The customers really care about this bar, “Sammy” and the staff. Relative newcomers and newlyweds Ian and Monica shared this sentiment, “We moved here a year and a half ago and adopted this place. We got married on Friday and were thinking of having our New York wedding party here. And the only reason to do that is the people.” A petition has emerged on Facebook encouraging Gomez to keep Pete’s original staff.

Pete’s sister location in Manhattan, Waterfront Ale House, will remain under the ownership of Mr. Barbieri. He was unfortunately not available for comment at the time of publication.

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  • NYChalf

    will they still offer their bootleg eggnog??

  • Sen. Bob Forehead

    Tragic. Threre was a time not long ago when this was the only place to get a decent meal in this nabe. Best atmosphere of any bar in our hood.

  • Louis Zamperini

    Best burger in BKLYN and great beer selection. Some occasionally surly waitstaff, but that’s also hard to find these days (waiters practically sit down at your table at Peter Luger’s, wtf?)…

  • Bongo

    Boo! Home to yet another soon-to-fail pizza joint. Like we need another!!!! “We’ll keep everything the same…” – right. Let’s see how that pans out. (file in “heard it all before”)

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Songbird, enjoyed your writing style. Hope to read more from you.

  • michaelem

    I will miss the bread pudding, the best in all of New York.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    If the new owner’s pizza is anything like that of his Vezzo restaurant in Manhatttan, it will be one terrific pizza.

  • Reggie

    What makes it “bootleg”? Uncooked eggs? (It’s true; I don’t know what goes into eggnog.)

  • Eddyde

    Dimetri is a great bartender and the new owner would be foolish to let him go, most of the rest of the wait staff should go.

  • Heightsman

    That’s my guess….

  • DIBS

    But, but, but it will be “brick oven”

  • Small Requester

    Hoping for a gluten-free pizza option, and gluten-free burger buns, too. (Just in case the new owner is reading the comments. Not asking for a big menu change… just this added option.)

  • memorious

    Dimitri is great, but so are all of the other bartenders I’ve met. Never sat at a table, but the servers that I’ve talked to have all been friendly. Support all the staff, I say, barring something egregious (not that many of them can probably afford to stay with the place closing for a month or more).

  • Ernie

    It is not widely known but Sam is not the owner. He has a partner in the Brooklyn bar, It is Peter Glick (which is why Pete’s is in the name) who moved to Seattle years ago

  • Eddyde

    I was referring to the table wait staff, which I always found to be rude and inattentive.

  • Eddyde

    Pizza is the holy grail of the restaurant biz… with a food cost at 20% or less, it’s by far the most profitable. Especially “gourmet” pizza where the ingredents don’t cost much more than regular pie, at double or triple the price point.

  • someone

    Was there a relationship to Peter’s Ice Cream which used to be on Atlantic?

  • Ernie

    Yes. Same Peter.

  • mandboy

    This is horrible news… Not only is the neighborhood becoming too expensive to live in, it’s losing it’s flavor as well. This is the only “honest” bar in the hood, expertly tended by the bar staff. Mary and Jerry are two of the best bartenders in the world, the new owner would be a fool to lose them. The food here is excellent as well, especially the October fest menu and the daily specials. And free popcorn! This will be a tragic loss.

  • bultrey

    Yes, it was fantastic. The coleslaw is about the best I’ve ever had, as well.