Bars try to be familiar. Even those visited for the first time are almost expected, their arrangement typical and the experience unrevealing. Happy Fun Hideaway, a new establishment on Myrtle Avenue near its intersection with Willoughby, hopes to break from that mold. “We’re creating this community space outside of what we’re taught bars should be,” said Rachel Nelson, an owner of Happy Fun Hideaway I had the chance to speak with. Rachel laments the homogeneous makeup of certain Brooklyn bars, and hopes to attract a clientele from all walks of life. In doing so, her aspiration is to have a space where visitors will meet new people and “get involved enough to understand we can all exist together.”
While Happy Fun Hideaway certainly has a distinct look – imagine a beach community bar landing inside of a contemporary art gallery – its end is to impart a distinct emotion. “That moment when you’re so relaxed because you have nothing to do,” explains Rachel, “That’s what we’re trying to capture.” A picnic table highlights the front end of the bar, while the back is home to vintage arcade games that have been refurbished by a friend of the owners. The staffers are all friends Rachel has known for over five years from a different project of hers, Secret Robot Project. That Happy Fun Hideaway is a reality seems hard to believe considering how quickly it materialized out of an idea floated in February: the owners built the bar themselves over the course of three months.
Rachel has a vision for Happy Fun Hideaway as a bar “where you can always have a conversation. We already have places where we can have huge parties.” But when asked about what kind of atmosphere to expect, she shared that two drag queens work the bar on Fridays (“there’s going to be that vibe of fabulousness”) and that two DJ friends of hers play loud reggae on Saturday. But what is to become of the coveted conversations? “I tell them to turn it down sometimes”, Rachel admits, “But I can’t be here every second. They like to step it up a bit on Saturdays.”
When Happy Fun Hideaway’s owner bought the space it occupies, the women who sold it thought a bar was exactly what the neighborhood needed. Despite being a shade over two weeks old, Happy Fun Hideaway has already been received positively by the community. Some long time residents have expressed enthusiasm at the new addition to their area. As I left the bar, a girl having a phone conversation through her Apple headphones interjected: “Oh! I found a new happy hour!” She is bound to find much more at Happy Fun Hideaway than just a good deal.