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An Expert’s Guide to Building a Community Bar

April 09, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

art: Nick Hensley

Bar owner and sustainability advocate Claire Sprouse shares her advice for reimagining the meaning and function of a bar.

Claire Sprouse has made it her mission to model what a progressive bar culture can look like. She considers her bar and restaurant, located in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, “a community space in the truest sense of the word,” meaning that rather than simply providing the surrounding neighborhood with an outlet for food and beverage, her brick-and-mortar functions as a forum for communication and advocacy.

Having always been interested in the concept of sustainability, both environmental and political, Sprouse opens her doors to all kinds of community-based activities, including weekly postcard-to-voter events, political candidate meet-and-greets, informational panels on recycling and water use, and fundraisers for the nearby community garden.

By expanding the boundaries of what a bar and restaurant can be, Sprouse says her business has benefited not only financially—finding new revenue streams and audience—but holistically; by offering her space as a forum for conversations, she’s noticed not only guests engaging through a new lens of curiosity, but the surrounding community recognizing opportunities to amplify one another’s missions and voices beyond the bar. “I’m not trying to create a sustainable bar-restaurant so I can hold the title for most sustainable,” says Sprouse, “but to show that it can be done and doesn’t have to be at the sacrifice of anything else.”

Building a Community Bar With Claire Sprouse

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