Greenpoint’s Pencil Factory Owners Opened a Bar in Ridgewood, Onderdonk & Sons

Onderdonk & Sons (all photos by Katarina Hybenova for Bushwick Daily)

One could argue that the bar scene in Bushwick has reached its saturation point. For one, Community Board 4 certainly thinks so. And while the areas off Morgan and Jefferson L train stops have thanks to their sprouting establishments become a Disneyland for twenty-somethings, in east Bushwick you can still walk for miles without bumping into a single watering hole. In Ridgewood, the situation has always been a little different. While The New York Times has recently published their almost template article announcing yet another New York neighborhood gentrifying, the truth is that Ridgewood has had its bars (and even yoga studios) for decades. Gottscheer Beer Hall, an old-fashioned German beer heaven popular among Ridgewood old-timers as well as among recent college grads has been serving Franziskaner beer since 1924. Queens Tavern recently replaced Caskey’s Bar and has been generating good local crowd also thanks to its fun events such as the Variety Night or BYOV(inyl).

It appears that a newly opened cozy bar at a corner of Onderdonk Ave and Menahan St will be joining these Ridgewood favorites.

Onderdonk & Sons is owned and operated by a husband-wife duo Louise Favier and Brian Taylor who are no newbies to the bar scene. The duo has owned (and closed some of their) several bars in Greenpoint, Long Island City and even in Edmonds, a small town nearby Seattle where Brian grew up. Probably the most notable of their bars is Pencil Factory bar in Greenpoint, which they have been running since 2001.

“Ridgewood style reminded us of our beginnings in Greenpoint,” told Louise Favier last week, just two nights before their official opening. “People here are very friendly, easy-going and not jaded. They don’t ask you things like “how old is your vintage typewriter behind the bar.” They simply moved here because of decent rent, not necessarily because the neighborhood is cool.” Both Louise and I agreed that what Greenpoint is to Williamsburg, that Ridgewood is to Bushwick. A more low key, residential alternative where you can still find a lot of typical delis and other businesses. The husband-and-wife duo commutes to Ridgewood and Greenpoint from Upper East Side where they’re raising their two young children. (“It’s cheaper to live on York and 78th Street than in Greenpoint or Long Island City. Plus the kids are closer to the school they go to.”)

Onderdonk & Sons is operating only on a tavern license (they only serve beer and wine, no hard liquors) because New York laws don’t allow for a full bar to operate within 200 feet from a church (a Haitian church is just a few steps away from Onderdonk & Sons).

But Louise and her husband Brian don’t seem to mind at all. “We found this great location, a corner bar! (Brian is always looking for a corner bar!) We have a raised sidewalk, which is great for summer, and most importantly a good landlord.” “Furthermore,” continued Louise, “plenty of interesting beverages pass as beer or wine, and we were interested in what kinds of cocktails we can prepare using them.” Louise mentions a cocktail named Fall Harvest (“You grate delicious NY State organic apples shrub, mix it with Vermouth and Brooklyn Selzer from Canarsie. Delicious!”).

New bar has a vintage, timeless New York feel. “We wanted to create a mellow vibe where people can talk, share good time with their friends. A place where people are welcomed and valued.” Louise also mentioned how important good bartenders with a friendly attitude are for them. “It all comes down to a good bartender…”

The beautiful leather booths at Onderdonk & Sons come from Greenpoint Coffee House, a place they used to own but closed in Greenpoint, Louise revealed.

“The booths were made small and intimate. When we left Greenpoint Coffee House, we took them with us and kept them in a storage for a couple of years.” The owners also utilized the bar, mirrors and cabinets from their previous venture. “This place used to be a factory, so we kept this beautiful wooden floor.” Vintage fridge behind the bar is a great Craigslist find of Brian, and we cannot otherwise but to mention a working phone booth and a well-stocked jukebox in the back of the bar.

In about a week, Onderdonk & Sons will be serving also burgers and fries and brunch on weekends (not much else because “Brian is a purist” who likes a very particular feel of things in his bars, as Louise told us.)

Onderdonk & Sons @ 566 Onderdonk Ave (corner Menahan St) is open every day from 4PM to midnight-ish except Thursdays to Saturdays when they will stay open till about 4AM.

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