Southern Brooklyn

Remember When: Sheepshead Residents Spoke Of Popeye’s, And They Didn’t Mean Chicken

This is a photo of Popeye’s Spinach Factory, a local bar, restaurant and music venue that once sat at 2301 Emmons Avenue, at the corner of Bedford Avenue, where Applebee’s is now.

Reader Andrew Baum sent in the photo, with the following description:

a/k/a “The Lewis House”, Popeye’s featured local bands, including The Good Rats. During the day, it was a fisherman’s hangout. At night, the kids from Brooklyn College and Kingsborough C.C. hung out there. The bar went through a few more incarnations, subsequently renamed “Davy Jones’ Locker” and, finally, “Captain Walters”.

We did a little extra searching around, and it looks like Popeye’s Spinach Factory is a bonafide rock-and-roll landmark: it’s the birthplace of punk rock singer Handsome Dick Manitoba’s singing career.

Here’s how Punk Magazine put it:

Popeye’s was a derelict bar in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The clientele should have gone to Alcoholics Anonymous. The bar tried live rock’n’roll to boost business. The Dogs (who still play in Los Angeles), opened the night. The late great Eric Emerson fronted the Dogs. The Dictators played their usual set–Fireman’s Friend, Master Race Rock, Backstreet Boogie, Back to Africa, Weekend. Adny asked Richard Blum, one of their roadies, to come up on stage. He slammed into “Wild Thing,” giving one of the great live performances of that song in this century, despite the fact that he had never set foot on a stage before in his whole life except to fix the mikes or set up the drums wrong. Something happened. All the bums in the bar–proud to see a fellow derelict make it big–went NUTS. They liked this degenerate so much they started climbing the bar stools, throwing bottles, and screaming for more, more more$$ They danced and ranted and raved–not realizing that Handsome Dick Manitoba was born.

Blondie’s Debbie Harry also has an account of that evening, but I’ve already taken enough info from this great website without giving any credit. So go there to read Harry’s account, and see an old ad for Popeye’s.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I remember this place – what an undesirable element hung out there.  I had friends who practically lived there at night.

  2. I remember this as the Sizzler when I was a kid. I loved waiting on line in front of the menu board and exploring the salad bar.

  3. This is indeed the NW corner of Bedford & Emmons Ave. The site is now occupied by the condo development which went up about 15-20 years ago. I know – I took the photo in May of 1973. I sent the correction to Ned yesterday. I’m sure he’ll revise the caption shortly. – Andy Baum

  4. I loved Forgoodness Steak. After that came Applebee’s. And, as everyone else has pointed out, this was the northeastern corner of the Emmons&Bedford intersection, while Captain Walter’s stood across Bedford on the NW side.
     

  5. Nobody has pointed out that Captain Walters made a comeback in the late 90’s, in a different spot on Emmons Avenue, where a Greek restaurant stand now, next to Baku restaurant, close to Ocean Avenue. It was open a few years (3?) before closing.

       Hey, we still have Wheelers! Was there Friday night to see the Geezers, and had myself a seafood Fajitas that was great, along with some SoCo for oldtimes sake. The place was crowded, good to see.

  6. Did you know Gene? He would be near 60 now…if he were alive.
    Pete Hammil did an article on him. He bartered work in the bay area.

  7. Did Wheeler’s move once.?I was there a few years ago and it looked nothing like when I was there many years earlier.

  8. That building was so pretty. I was very upset when I noticed it was no longer there. Wonder how old it was. Anyone know?

  9. It was the Luis House back in the sixties. it had a piano on a stage near the front window and people would get up and sing. In the summer the window was open so you could hear the singing as you passed by.

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