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SF Cocktail Star Brings a Bright New Restaurant to Crown Heights

Hunky Dory is from an acclaimed SF bartender who’s focused on sustainability

Claire Sprouse, owner of Hunky Dory, sits in blue overalls besides a green-yellow cocktail on ice.
Claire Sprouse
Emily Arden Wells for Hunky Dory [Official Photo]

Crown Heights has a new all-day cafe and bar from a celebrated San Francisco bartender.

Hunky Dory — at 747 Franklin Ave. and Sterling Place — is the project of Claire Sprouse, who brings experience from Sunday in Brooklyn and ABV in SF to create this new American restaurant and bar focused on sustainability. Sprouse has spent much of her career finding ways to reduce waste in restaurants and bars, and she plans to incorporate that in a major way into the food and drink.

For example, Sprouse makes her own orgeat in an untraditional way. Orgeat, most famously used in a mai tai, is usually made by infusing almonds into water and then straining off the resulting liquid with some orange blossom water. But almonds require a ton of water to grow, which make them less sustainable. So Sprouse turned to sunflower seeds, which she says result in an equally nutty liquid she then mixes with citrus, cynar, and bourbon. The kitchen may even use the solids that are strained off to further lessen waste.

The food comes from Kirstyn Brewer, who moved here from Dallas, where she was an Eater Young Gun nominee. So far, it’s only open for breakfast and lunch, serving a casual new American menu split into larger and smaller plates. Larger plates, enough for a meal, include silver dollar apple cider pancakes with rosemary toffee sauce; a smashed potato hash with nduja and aged cheddar; and kabocha squash oatmeal with red wine-poached pears and other toppings.

Smaller plates were inspired by Sprouse’s love for eating alone and wanting to be able to try more than one thing without spending a ton of money or having leftovers. So dishes like everything-spiced cucumbers, soft-boiled tea eggs, and tropical fruit salad with chimoy top out at $5. There’s also espresso and matcha drinks and tea.

Winter citrus with salted yogurt, fennel, and crispy quinoa at Hunky Dory
Winter citrus with salted yogurt, fennel, and crispy quinoa
Hunky Dory/Instagram

Hunky Dory — partially named for David Bowie’s fourth album — will only be open during the day and serve just non-alcoholic drinks while it waits for a liquor license, expected in mid-February. So the menu, in full below, is a work in progress during that time, too.

Non-alcoholic cocktails, which Sprouse has spent a lot of time on in her career, are $5 in the meantime and could include a hot sorrel hibiscus drink with pink peppercorn.

“Non-alcoholic drinks can be an afterthought for a lot of people, and now I get to spend the entire month working on them,” she says. “It’s been very fundamental to my career that bars and restaurants are kind of community spaces, and low-ABV drinks have been a big part of my repertoire.”

Hunky Dory takes over the former BKW space, and Sprouse, who lives in the neighborhood, has lightened and brightened the 56-seat space with vivid colors, plants, and exclusively female-made art on the walls, though it’s still a work in progress.

That female mentality extends farther than just the art. Though her co-owner Chad Arnholt is male, she calls this her “undertaking.” When hiring, she looked for people who were “interested in building a new model or restaurant culture from scratch and looking to prioritize how we interact with each other as a team and with our community,” Sprouse says.

“I feel really lucky to be able to support a really badass chef first and foremost, but the fact that she’s a strong female leader sets a really good tone for the team,” she says.

Hunky Dory joins a long line of all-day cafes that have opened in the last couple of years, including Daily Provisions, Fairfax, Kopitiam, and La Mercerie.

For now Hunky Dory is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the plan to be open until 2 a.m. once the liquor license rolls in.

Hunky Dory

747 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (516) 418-2063 Visit Website