In the weeks before Mo's opened in the space , co-owners Calvin Clark and Dorly Ninio over things like the bar's decor, its perceived catering to neighborhood "upstarts" and, most of all, their choice of name (sans-e).
, the chatter died down as the neighborhood's new watering hole started to attract a healthy mix of locals, nearby workers and visitors.
After a more than a year in business and with the potentially game changing opening of Barclays Center only weeks away, Patch decided to check back in with Clark—who also owns the Brooklyn club Langston's—to get a sense of the year that was and the year yet to come.
Patch: Mo's has been open for more than a year now. Can you tell our readers how the first year of Mo's Fort Greene has been?
Calvin Clark: I think it's been great, it's been an adventure. I think the neighborhood has responded in a positive manner. They like what we've done with the place. We've maintained most importantly that mix that was unique to Moe's, which is really black, white, economically diverse, and racially diverse.
"It's going to be a nightmare." —Mo's Calvin Clark on Barclays Center parking.
So we've kept that—and that's what people mostly enjoyed about Moe's. We've made it a little more—we've created pockets and place where people can gather and be intimate while still being around people.
Patch: What are some of the challenges that you've encountered over the past year?
Clark: I think with the food. You know, I'm not a cook but we have some great chefs that have put out some really great recipes—pretty simple. But I've never done food, so food ... the challenges of having things come out right, getting it out on time, customer service. That has been the biggest challenge—for me.
Patch: This is a question I plan to ask every small business owner I talk to. If you had the opportunity to talk to any lawmaker at City Hall, the State Capitol in Albany or the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and you asked them to do one thing to make your life as a small business owner better...What would it be?
Clark: I think that the bureaucracy that small businesses owners have to go through and the constant ticketing and fines you get—fortunately I haven't had to experience that. But it's a thing I hear from a lot of businesses—it's a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of red tape just to get the most simplest, mundane thing done. And I think that is where, that's what makes this city a challenge to do business in. And in a lot of small cities—you just don't have to pull teeth and do 10 pieces of paperwork to get one thing done.
Patch: Barclays Center is with Jay-Z's first concert. What are you expecting to happen as far as your business' bottom line after the arena opens?
Clark: [Laughing] I'm hoping to get at least 30 or 40 people from that stadium every time they have an event. It's kind of up in the air—I'm not sure how it's going to affect the community. Barclays Center—rightfully so—they are trying to keep as many dollars inside the stadium as possible with bars and clubs. And I don't know how much of that is going to spill out into the community. Fort Greene has the advantage of being one of the hot new neighborhoods—not new, but it's hot and it's happening. And that might give us an advantage. I'm just hoping that we get 30-40 people spilling from the stadium every time they have an event. It would be great. I talked to the owner of and he was saying pretty much the same thing— as well. We're three blocks away from the stadium and it could make all the difference. People might not want to walk that extra block.
Patch: In terms of parking, crowds and that kind of stuff, do you have any trepidations about the opening of the arena?
Clark: Parking is going to be a nightmare. We already have traffic snarling along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue. They haven't even finished the parking. I've heard that they are going to be bussing people down from the end of Atlantic Avenue by the river. It's going to be a nightmare. I don't care which way they spin that.