When Randy and Suzanne Tyson started planning their Park Slope bar, DDT, they anticipated opening sometime in early March. This didn’t happen, not for the usual delays caused by construction and city permitting, but because of a global pandemic.
“Do we just fold up and quit? That’s not what me and my wife are about,” Tyson said.
“This bar is a passion project. We’ve already really come to love the space and we’re dying to share it with other people.” Both Randy and Suzanne have been involved in the industry for many years, and spent over a year working on DDT.
In addition to the normal challenges facing restaurants — delivery app fees, inability to serve customers in person, DDT had not yet been approved for their liquor license when the stay-at-home orders were enacted.
“While the state PAUSE is going on we’re under the impression that they aren’t issuing anything permit-wise or liquor license-wise. We’re waiting for that and hopefully, that comes through ASAP,” Tyson said. In the meantime, the bar is serving a menu with a variety of options, including cheesesteaks, crispy chicken thighs, and burgers.
DDT, a bar with a wrestling theme to match Tyson’s love of the sport, was intended as a neighborhood hang-out.
“We’re a local bar that was designed for people in the neighborhood to have a place to go, to be able to socialize and hang out, get a good bite to eat, a good drink, and relax. So, to have to open under these conditions where we’re currently just selling food for delivery and for pick up, it’s a heck of a challenge when you’re budgeted in a certain way and your business model is designed a certain way,” Tyson said.
Despite these challenges, business has been better than they expected, with the neighborhood showing up to support them.
“This time is more about connecting with people and letting them know we’re going to be here for the long run. I don’t want to say I’m scared— I guess it’s a good fear— but I kind of feel like if we did open at full capacity tomorrow, we might have a line out the door,” he said. “The neighborhood’s really been great. People have just been coming by, showing their support, saying they can’t wait to get inside and drink beers and have some cocktails. We can’t wait to do that for them.”
Once the bar does open, Tyson says the vision has always been low-key. It’s a relatively small space, with room for about 40 people at full capacity and the intention of having one person each behind the bar and in the kitchen. For now, those people are Randy and Suzanne, who are at DDT seven days a week and are the only people working there for now.
One of the most frustrating things about the experience for them is the lack of solid information. They’ve seen other restaurants completely changing their interior set-ups to match a plan for the future that they haven’t heard yet.
“I guess that’s my biggest fear. We’re doing the best we can with the information that we have, obviously, we want to keep ourselves and our customers as safe as possible, but that worry is there that when they do allow us to have people inside there would be some new regulation that they haven’t spoken about yet,” Tyson said.
For now, they want to make it clear that no matter what the future holds, DDT will be there to welcome the neighborhood.
“When customers do come in you can tell that they want to get back to a level of normalcy too. You’re trying to be as positive with them, as reassuring as possible, because we want them to know we’re not going anywhere,” Tyson said.