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Legendary Red Hook Dive Sunny's Is Still Fighting Closure, Two Years After Hurricane Sandy

The bar has been in the family for more than a century, but now 18 cousins want to sell it.


Classic Red Hook dive bar Sunny's took a heavy hit during Sandy. The bar flooded and was forced to close for almost a year. It took more than $100,000 to get it and the home next door where the owners live back in working order. Since then, the 18 cousins who co-own it have been pushing to sell.

The bar has been in the Balzano family since the late 1800's, but is operated by Tone Balzano Johansen, the wife of the bar's namesake, Sunny Balzano. Johansen has been fighting off the cousins and working to keep the bar up and running. Her first loan applications was turned down, she tells Bedford + Bowery, because she lost her business records during the storm. But, Johansen is hoping the New York Business Development Corporation will help her with funding.

Now, she says, "business has been great...and I take great pride in that when people come in they say ‘Oh, everything looks the same.'" But down the road she hopes to turn the bar into a coffee shop during the day, bring in live music and kegs to help the bottom line. For Johansen, the bar is "performance art....It needs all this tending to otherwise its gonna die."