Story and Photography by Warren J. Spindler and Donna Garcia

One Saturday afternoon this past August, We drove to Brooklyn, in search of our mothers' childhood homes.  This is our story:

It turned out the young girls lived not far from one another although nearly a decade in age and different cultures separated them. Through Warren's patient determination, we discovered his mother's apartment building in Bay Ridge looking as Mom remembered it some seventy years ago with the main entrance awning still spanning the sidewalk. In Bensonhurst, Donna’s mother’s two homes were neatly kept though unfortunately somewhat "modernized”. We found them where her mother and uncle said they were located. It was a gorgeous afternoon to walk around the respective neighborhoods all the while soaking in the ethnic character, and Brooklyn sun. Before we headed for home, we sought an outdoor cafe. Or so we thought...

Driving down Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, we passed by a small storefront tavern whose name and demeanor stopped us in our tracks: The Wicked Monk. Deciding to forgo the outdoor cafe, we quickly found parking. Arriving thirsty, we opened the heavy door and stepped into what seemed to be a dimly lit medieval cloister. Immediately we were greeted with a friendly smile and spontaneous hello from Daniela Dubois, an adorable lass tending the bar.  At once at ease, we found a congregation of ladies and gentlemen of all ages seated and standing at the bar.  Our eyes adjusted to the dim light and we settled into the atmosphere looking around in amazement. Soon we discovered the quality of the space. In fact, the whole bar, the entire eclectic decor, was comprised of uniquely curious pieces of Irish culture including the contents of a genuine Irish cloister!  

While taking our order, Daniela gladly filled us in with the history. Everything was in fact authentic, having been brought over from the old country by the two owners. Heading toward the back of the bar to freshen up, we found dark oak confessionals, choir pews, and a raised pulpit complete with a skull. There were carved stone faces of “the seven deadly sins” hung along the wall staring down on us innocent and humble folk. Daniela served us a delightful Brooklyn brewed ale and a delicious hard cider. As we looked a bit hungry, she offered us a couple of bags of snacks kept under the bar, having personally purchased them for the patrons. (No food is served here). We continued to look around.

Above our heads a flying monk!  The likenesses of the original pioneers of this drinking sanctuary were painted on the recessed portion of the ceiling. This feature is an architectural relic itself. The formerly colorful and atmospherically lit ceiling detail was a popular deco custom back in the day. More than Seventeen years ago, this space was an Italian restaurant.

The older gentleman next to us, a regular, spoke highly about the unique quality of the Wicked Monk. This establishment seems to mirror Bay Ridge itself: friendly, community minded, a place to talk, to laugh. You can walk, drive or ride the subway to the Monk.  With its social calendar, its spirited, though far from sacred, heart draws patrons of all ages from near and far. As we looked carefully, tiny details were pointed out.  See the little hooks in a row above the gorgeous back bar? Empty now they once held women’s brassiers. Why, we innocently asked? Each brassier was donated and accepted only if its owner graced the top of the bar, she being moved by the spirit of the moment and the music.

We discovered Ms. Dubois, a Bay Ridge native, lives in Monmouth County NJ, not ten miles from Donna’s apartment! She teaches preschool during the week and commutes to Bay Ridge every Saturday to tend bar at the Monk. Her attachment and affection for her neighborhood reaches back to her childhood. Her family still lives in this neighborhood.  She recalled, after the passing of her father, the kindnesses she received from the neighborhood regulars. She went on to describe, this is and has been the custom of the area’s establishments: to raise money for the neighborhood customers and their families who find themselves in need of a helping hand.

We stayed on way past our original intent although not late enough to hear the great live band scheduled to play that night.  In departing, with handshakes and hugs, we knew we had found a unique spot, and some blessed souls therein, here on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. On the way back to Jersey we promised ourselves to write about and to revisit the Wicked Monk- hopefully soon.

The Wicked Monk has an awesome website:  http://wickedmonk.com. You can also find it on “Facebook”. Check it out. If you go, you won't be disappointed in this little cloister tavern.  And, of course, a visit to Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst while in Brooklyn makes the trip thoroughly worthwhile.

Warren and Donna previously wrote about the "Rusty Spur" in Old Town
- Phoenix, AZ in 2010.

The Wicked Monk i n Brooklyn, NY
The Wicked Monk in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York

Bar at The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn, NY

Back bar at The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn, NY

Daniela Dubois at The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn, NY
Daniela Dubois is a congenial and competent prioress.

Sign at the Wicked Monk in  Brooklyn, NY


The Wicked Monk

8415 5th Avenue

Bay Ridge

Brooklyn, New York 11209





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