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Jackie's Fifth Amendment to Close September 14th

It was only a few years ago when Park Slope had no lack of what you might call "old man bars," older drinking establishments that predate a time when anyone might have even considered bringing their toddler to one, that opened early and served no-frills drinks to no-frills people in a no-frills room. There was the great O'Connors, Timboo's, Smith's, Old Carriage Inn, Mooney's, and Jackie's Fifth Amendment, bars where time seemed to stand still and the regulars all knew each other's names. O'Connor's, Timboo's, and Mooney's are all gone or have been transformed into different bars, and it's been announced that Jackie's will be the next to go, on September 14th.

Jackie's has been a bar since most likely the 1940s, when it was called Costello's. During the 60s and 70s it was called Tyson's Tavern, then briefly called His & Hers. In the 1980s it was sold back to the previous owner's daughter, Jackie Costello, and she named it "Fifth Amendment" because nobody was required to give their last name or let whatever happened in the bar leave the bar, according to bartender Linda. Jackie was a beloved neighborhood fixture for many years, and could always be counted on to serve a free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner to her more down-on-their luck patrons (this was a time when there were a lot more SROs in the neighborhood when there are today, needless to say).

Jackie Costello

After Jackie passed away in 2005, her husband, Harold, took over the bar with his friend Sammy. According to bartender Becky (who famously attempted to secede the bar from Park Slope last year), Harold, who's now pushing 70, has decided to retire and, according to Brooklyn Magazine, has sold the bar to the pharmacy next door, who will presumably expand into the corner space.

Drinking at a bar like Jackie's (or O'Connor's, or even McSorley's, for that matter) is a rather different experience from drinking at a modern bar, especially during the daylight hours and on a weekday. I'd recommend you drop into Jackie's at some point before it closes, to overhear regulars chatting, take in the stuccoed ceiling, padded bar, wood-paneled walls, long-unused back room, jukebox, and no-nonsense attitude, and pay respects to a dying breed.

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Reader Comments (25)

I remember the one time I walked in there. I immediately looked the for chalkboard where they write what's on tap this week, hoping for a nice double IPA. I couldn't find it, so I asked the elderly person behind the bar if they knew where the bartender went. It was all very confusing. It didn't end well.

Who am I kidding? I never walked into that place.

I understand people lamenting places like this, but dive bars where you spent a couple of bucks on a bucket of tiny Miller Lites was fun......when I had a fake ID and was in college......and was far from Park Slope. That was a while ago. Now, I'd rather be at the place with the chalkboard where no one cares whether I brought L'IL SLOPE WARZ with me. But that's just me and I'm not going to begrudge anyone else's eulogy here.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSLOPE WARZ

You nailed it.
But still: It is sad to see these places go, where one could go to drink away a bad day.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterbenB

That place has been there forever! It will be odd not to see it anymore....

Mooney's brings back memories. I used to go there when I first moved into the neighborhood and they were on 7th Avenue where the SuperSavers store used to be between President and Union.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterParkSlopePerson

I think really important to note that the owner is getting old and just decided to sell the place. People seem to be taking the stance that gentrification has driven the last dive bar out of the neighborhood. It's not that, at all. He's moving on.

Also, I never set foot in here. There was no need except for the novelty of saying you had.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

The one time I went in there, everyone was so unfriendly. The bartender and the clientele stared daggers at my friends and I. We quickly left.

You can drink away a bad day at any bar. But I don't want to feel like I am intruding on your depression when I want a drink.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermattlaw74

I have gone there many times through the years to have bucket of the Bud mini bottles. It was always just fun place to go and play the jukebox. They were always very nice to me and the other customers when I was there. It will be sad to see it go.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBalki

This is one of the few still-existing bars that Pete Hamill drank in back in the 1940s/1950s as recounted in his Park Slope memoir, A Drinking Life. He mentions it as Costello's.

If I'm not mistaken, the only other bars from that book that still have their old names are Farrell's and Smith's Tavern.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlf

Dives are great. But they can be updated a little bit to welcome in the always changing neighborhoods of NYC.

The problem with many of these places is that they not only refused to change, but seem to be angry at the new arrivals. You could feel what I mean if you ever walked into Jackie's.

Give your place a fresh paint job, put in an IPA, clean your bathroom once a week, do something, ANYTHING that might cater to a larger mix of people.

If you don't, you're just a bad business person and it shows to those new arrivals that you don't care about them, but only some stupid old school notion that any change is bad.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Theres plenty of old neighborhood bars with character that cater to locals but know how to move with the times. They can survive and thrive. Previously mentioned Farrell’s is a great example. Jackies was destined for her fate.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJbob

@rick The only problem from that is when the owners get "update" in their head and go completely overboard. Look what happened with O'Connor's!

August 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterHere's Park Slope

The article says that Jackie's is closing becaue the owner is selling. Why are people commenting that the bar was destined for this fate because it didn't change with the times. Seems like the bar was doing just fine.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSlopeLifer

I once sauntered into the bathroom at Mars Bar having no idea what I was in for. Now, THAT was a dive bar.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFelton

@Slope lifer et al.

Jackies owned the bar so they could weather poor business much easier than a leasing tenant. as long as they wanted to run it. If they were doing well, the owner would have sold to someone wanting to buy the business not just the space.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

I got all excited when I read this but then realized it was the Fifth Amendment and not the Fifth Estate.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFluffle Flicker

Who cares (other than the 5 old drunks that called this place home)

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbklynmind

The place did just fine with it's clientele. Not everything has to change to keep up with the new people moving in. the owners liked the bar the way it was and kept it that way. Maybe they were happy with the crowds it brought in. Not everyone likes IPAs (I mean, seriously, what is the big deal about a lousy IPA? give me a good wheat beer anytime. I love a Pilsner or a hefen Weisen).

Anyway, once again, the place is closing because the owner is old and retiring. What does it matter that they didn't sell to someone who wanted to run a bar? It was probably easier to sell to the pharmacy next door so they did that.

They had a clientele that seemed to liked the place just fine.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterParkSlopePerson

My now wife and I stumbled into Jackie's about five years ago, before we even thought about getting married. We are now in our 30s, so we were dumb puppies. Yes, when we walked in our first thoughts were that we didn't belong, based on the mood. But we acted like we did, or now hope that we did, and we plopped down and ordered a bucket of mini MHL bottles. The bartender and fellow drinkers could not have been nicer and more accommodating. On the sad side, there was a guy on an end stool crying about a daughter who wouldn't talk to him.

It makes me sad to think that people make fun of this place ("old man bar"?) for being what it purely set out to be. Comfort. Friendship. And alcoholic escape at 10 am, too. This is a neighborhood bar, and one that we can be proud of, and one that should forever be proud of the note it struck for Park Slope and Brooklyn.

My wife and I will be going back before it closes. They don't know us there, by any means. But we will be going to pay our mini MHL respects to Jackie, Harold, Linda, Sammy, Becky, and the rest of Dem Bums.

My last name is Lowery.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercbl

You people who want these places you dismiss as "dive bars" to "put in an IPA" and add a fresh coat of paint are right: you aren't welcome here. So just take your lily-white asses down the street to whatever generic bar that's sanitary enough for your kind and leave us low-lifes in peace. Few places are left in this city that don't stink of your bourgeois provincialism -- congrats.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrue NYR

"You people who want these places you dismiss as "dive bars" to "put in an IPA" and add a fresh coat of paint are right: you aren't welcome here. So just take your lily-white asses down the street to whatever generic bar that's sanitary enough for your kind and leave us low-lifes in peace. Few places are left in this city that don't stink of your bourgeois provincialism -- congrats."

You must be from Windsor Terrace.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSLOPE WARZ

Bar 4, now this place... neighborhood is definitely improving, in my opinion.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill Sanchez

Jackie's is still open.

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