When Greenpointers hear the word ‘change’ lately, they shudder. Many of the recent changes affecting local institutions have not been positive. Beloved stores have closed, landmarks have been demolished and gentrification has bred a slew of unwelcomed transitions. Did I even mention Amazon?
Right in time for the holiday season we have some good news: The Palace (206 Nassau Ave), formerly Goodmans, the iconic Greenpoint bar on the corner of Nassau Avenue and Russel Street, just opposite McGolrick Park, is not only going to re-open on Nov. 30, but it’s going to feature a number of improvements.
At the end of the summer of 2016, I filed a story for Greenpointers entitled “The Sad End of The Palace Café” and I was also present for the final session on September 3rd of that year.
Many locals returned that weekend in 2016 for a final drink. They looked around at the old Tudor décor that makes the bar so unique with mixed emotions. Some traveled great distances because the bar had been their hangout decades before and was filled with memories. They wanted one last drink for old times sake. Groups of old friends met after years. Although there was joy at seeing old friends and recalling happy days gone by, the joy was mixed with sadness because many of the bar’s fans feared that the building would be demolished and replaced by the now ubiquitous luxury housing that is rising around the area like mushrooms after a spring shower. A cloud of uncertainty hung over the future of the bar, but that cloud has lifted.
The good news is not just that the Palace will re-open, but also that the bar will be run by a group of energetic locals who love the bar and cherish its history. One of the new owners is an old friend who is one of the most beloved local bartenders, Mary Schultz who has tended bar at Shayz Lounge ( 130 Franklin St.) Greenpoint Heights (278 Nassau Ave) and Lake Street (706 Manhattan Ave) where she has attracted a large fan base.
Schultz has been a regular in the bar for years and she treasures the fact that the Palace has a storied 88-year history. “The Palace is an institution. Its history and reputation among the locals of Greenpoint is the foundation of our business. It is our goal to restore and preserve this institution for future generations to enjoy, improving it where it has been neglected while still preserving the soul of this nearly 100-year-old establishment,” she said.
Schultz, however, is aware the area is changing and she and the other owners hope to strike a balance between the new and the old so old-time regulars and Greenpoint newcomers equally feel at home in the new palace.
What pleases local residents is that the new ownership not only plans to keep the traditions of the bar alive but also to widen the scope of the bar, making it a place for the Greenpoint community. They plan to make the spacious back room an event space that will feature comedy, music, community meetings and many other kinds of events. Schultz said that the goal was to play a bigger role than merely being a pub. They will have food too, but Schultz underlined that the Palace will remain a bar and not a restaurant.
One of the most assuring aspects of Schultz and the new ownership is that they all share a common love of Greenpoint. Schultz has been in the area since 2002 and has lived here longer than anywhere else in her life. She considers the area home and has a soft spot for the bar. It’s where she made many friends and celebrated many of the most important occasions in her life. She is truly invested not just in the palace, but also in the wider community. Like many Greenpointers, I’m eager for the Palace to re-open and I have high hopes that there are more chapters yet to be written in its storied history.