Update March 20: New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) confirmed owners surrendered their license one day before they were to go before the board for a disciplinary review.
CROWN HEIGHTS — After less than two years, the controversial Crown Heights bar Summerhill (currently named OBK), plagued by protests behind a so-called “bullet hole-ridden” wall, followed by a rocky management swap, is shuttering for good.
Neighbors saw owner Becca Brennan and about five people shuffling boxes of liquor from the bar-eatery at 637 Nostrand Avenue. Then on Monday, March, 18th, eyewitnesses say they saw someone rolling out a waist-high refrigeration system on a dolly. A chalkboard sign posted outside reads, “Everything Must Go!!!”
“It was a matter of time,” said Roger Myers, who’s lived in the area for more than four decades. “She started off wrong and never recovered from the protests.”
Crown Heights was first introduced to the “boozy sandwich shop” during the summer of 2017. Then, Brennan okayed a press release promoting what was rumored to be a bullet hole-ridden wall and the sale of forty-ounce wine—a marketing nod towards the 1980s Colt .45 Malt Liquor campaign in poorer nabes. Neither gesture came off as the owner expected.
Within days, the community responded with protests, accusing Brennan of profiting off of negative aspects of the community, reported Gothamist. Soon after a testy town hall on the topic followed while opposition grew towards the bar. Summerhill remained open.
“I’m not sorry that they’re closing,” said Sarah Lazur, a Crown Heights resident. “I never went there because of what went on when they were opening (the blithe references to bullet holes in a neighborhood with a history of gun violence), so I’m not losing anything.”
The bar’s liquor license is due to expire on May 31, 2019 and must be renewed. A feat the owner may have found difficult since renaming the bar OBK, Oyo’s Bar and Grill during a rebranding attempt. According to the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), Licensees cannot change their trade name without the SLA first approving it.
Complaints of grand larceny, underage drinking and bullet-stricken storefront windows may have also hampered their chances.
“The closure of Summerhill is not surprising considering the tone-deaf marketing ploys and ensuing community acrimony,” James Ellis said, chair of Community Board 8’s permits and licensing committee. “Licensed operators who disrespect the community and show blatant disregard for rules and regulations set forth by government agencies have no room in our neighborhoods.”
Ellis went on to say the committee is happy to support small business owners who want to be good stewards and operate welcoming, inclusive spaces.
Oyo did not respond to several requests for comment.