How to Open a Restaurant the Hard Way

St. John Frizell and Fort Defiance, Red Hook’s fantastic third place.

“In dark moments—and there were a lot of dark moments—I would calculate how many cappuccinos I needed to sell to pay off, say, the plumber. The number was always in the tens of thousands.” So reads an often-hilarious piece in the new issue of Gourmet Live by St. John Frizell on his decision to quit his food mag marketing gig to eventually open a restaurant.

Happily Frizell is now the owner of Fort Defiance, the all-day restaurant and cafe on the quiet corner at 365 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, a place launched on a shoestring budget and with shares sold to friends. These days Fort Defiance is among Brooklyn’s best places–says us–to eat and/or drink all day. Frizell, who is also as good a writer as a restaurateur, having written some of our own best pieces on cocktail culture, always refers to it a “third place,” after a phrase coined in a book by sociologist Ray Oldenburg.

You can thank him in person for almost losing his shirt and sanity on February 28th, when he’ll be one of several dozen folks making food and slinging drinks at Good Spirits, our first seasonal cocktail party of the year.

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