By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hinsch’s rose from the dead once. But the famous Bay Ridge ice cream parlor is not going to get a second life, after all.
Local residents reacted with shock to the news that Hinsch’s, which has been selling egg creams, waffles, and homemade ice cream from its location at 8518 Fifth Ave. since 1946, is closing for good on March 1.
Hinsch’s, despite its legendary name, was not generating enough business to justify keeping it open, co-owner Roger Desmond admitted in interviews with various media outlets on Jan. 9.
Chip Cafiero, a lifelong Bay Ridge resident who ate English muffins splattered with butter for breakfast every morning in Hinsch’s on his way to Fort Hamilton High School when he was a teenager years ago, said he thinks the fast food industry killed the popular eatery. “You have a Burger King next door and a lot of fast food places around the neighborhood. It used to be that you had to go to Hinsch’s for ice cream. But now, a lot of fast food places are serving ice cream sundaes. There not as good as Hinsch’s, but people don’t care,” he said.
A Bay Ridge business leader said he agreed with Cafiero. “If you’re out shopping on Fifth Avenue and you want a quick bite to eat, chances are you’re going to stop in a fast food joint and have a hamburger,” said the business leader, who did not want his name used.
Hinsch’s had originally closed back in September of 2011 when then-owner John Logue decided to retire. Fans of Hinsch’s despaired at the thought of losing their beloved eatery forever. But Hinsch’s was rescued and brought back to life by a trio of businessmen, Desmond, Gerard Bell, and Bill Gardell, who own Skinflint’s the popular restaurant bar at 7901 Fifth Ave., six blocks north of Hinsch’s.
Desmond, an experienced restaurateur, also owns the coffee shop located in the lobby of Lutheran Medical Center at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park, as well as other eateries around Brooklyn.
He and the other new owners renovated Hinsch’s, installing new tables, a new counter, and changed the décor to include murals depicting Bay Ridge in the 1940s. The menu was also updated http://www.ilovehinschs.com/ to include items such as a bleu cheese burger deluxe, croissants, and tortilla wraps. Old favorites, like the coke float, the homemade ice cream flavors like butter pecan, homemade chocolate candy, and the waffles with homemade whipped cream, remained on the menu. Hamburgers and sandwiches were still served with Hinsch’s famous circular cut pickles on the side.
The restaurant operated as a cash-only business and did not take credit cards.
The newly revived Hinsch’s reopened in November of 2011, two months after it had closed.
Desmond stated that there will be no re-opening this time around.
The spot where Hinsch’s is currently located will not be vacant for long. Building owner Anna Tesoriero already has a new tenant lined up to rent the space, according to a brooklyndaily.com report.
Local residents, many of whom have been eating at Hinsch’s since they were kids, said they were sad to see it go.
“I felt so bad when I heard,” said June Johnson. “I was just in there two weeks ago. I took my granddaughter to lunch. We were looking at the murals. I'm surprised to hear it's closing because it was crowded when we were there,” Johnson said.
“It’s hometown. It’s a part of Bay Ridge,” said Johnson, who spent many happy hours in Hinsch’s when she was a high school student years ago “It was the in place to be when I went to school."
Asked what her favorite thing to order was, Johnson said, "I’m really a candy person, so I like their candy. I also love their chocolate ice cream.”
A reporter paid a visit to Hinsch’s on Thursday at lunchtime. While munching on a Caesar salad, the reporter noticed that the place was nearly empty, save a few customers occupying booths. Songs like "California Dreamning" and "I Only Have Eyes For You" were playing over the sound system.
Two women who were leaving the restaurant after their meal were talking about the place closing. “It’s a shame,” said one. “We can’t hold onto our institutions.”