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John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City to Close, Owner Puts it Down to ‘Pandemic’ and ‘Idiot Politicians’

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Aug. 19, 2020 By Christian Murray

The owner of John Brown Smokehouse is closing his Long Island City restaurant citing the pandemic and “idiot politicians” as the reason.

Josh Bowen, who opened the restaurant at 10-43 44th Dr. eight years ago, said his lease had come to an end and that it made little sense to renew it at a time when there is so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

The venue, best known for its traditional sweet and smoky style barbecue, has yet to close and he will be making announcement as to a closing date soon.

Bowen said that he will convert his second restaurant—Mothership Meat Company located at 27-20 40th Ave. in Dutch Kills – into a John Brown Smokehouse. The 40th Avenue venue, he said, is more geared toward outdoor dining, with a garden that can seat 100 people in normal times.

Bowen said that it had become difficult to operate on 44th Drive and called the strip “a ghost town.” Earlier this month LIC Market, another restaurant on 44th Drive, closed.

Josh Bowen at Mothership Meat Company (Photo: Courtesy of Mothership Meat Company)

“Business has become untenable at our present location and it’s time to move on,” Bowen wrote in a social media post Tuesday.

“It is bittersweet to leave 44th Dr but between COVID and our idiot local politicians, nothing will ever flourish there for decades,” Bowen wrote, referring to the elected officials who opposed the Amazon HQ2 development—after initially calling for it to come to Long Island City.

Bowen, a fierce advocate for the Amazon deal, got into a public spat on twitter with local elected officials over their change of heart. He said that these spats, however, didn’t lead to a decline in business.

“It didn’t put a dent in business because everyone hates these politicians,” Bowen claimed.

Bowen, however, said that their anti-business rhetoric has put a damper on the growth of 44th Drive.

“We thought the neighborhood would grow around us, and it was, until the worst political regime in modern memory started doing things other than cashing donor checks,” Bowen wrote.

Bowen, however, said that he is still all-in on New York City and rejects those rooting against the Big Apple.

“We will stay and we will fight,” he wrote. “NYC isn’t a playground or a political experiment for us. It is our home….and we will do what real NYers do, go to work.”

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30 Comments

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John

He’s spot on about the worst political environment between State and City!
AOC is a disgrace for her malfeasance in the Amazon debacle. 25,000 jobs would sure help NYC now! “Idiot politicians “ ……. classic!

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No jobs, no economy

I agree, the record high unemployment under Trump means we could use those. Why are we the only first-world nation with SO many deaths per day?

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Anonymous

Another local institution closing after LIC Market… which some on here apparently love to celebrate because he hurt Jimmy’s feelings last year. There’s no plan at all to save this neighborhood – no developer checks to cash anymore – which people here are cheering as well. John Brown and LIC Market are the tip of the iceberg for a neighborhood that was just starting to plant some roots. Good stuff guys – enjoy going back to the “good old days” where the neighborhood was all horrible deli’s and empty warehouses.

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LICfly

Was not a terrible location, the area is growing, both residential and commercial. There are more restaurants opening, not closing there. Everyone is dealing with the same Amazon fall out, brutha. Call the Waaaaaambulance!

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J

“It didn’t put a dent in business because everyone hates these politicians,” Bowen claimed.

Sure man:
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 74.6% Michelle Caruso-Cabrera 18.2
– Gianaris 79% Terranova 21%

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T

That owner is really disgruntled over HQ2 not happening. Good riddance. The food wasn’t anything to write home about anyway.

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Will

Dude opened a mediocre BBQ place in an almost abandoned neighborhood. He was supported almost entirely by the rock climbing gym a block away. This was not good business planning…

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Pat

I was feeling sorry for him until I saw the stuff about Amazon, which would have only hired outsiders,not to mention further changing the character of our area, and putting a huge strain on our infrastructure. You can close both places as far as I care.

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johnna

I definitely stopped eating at John Brown’s after seeing his this guy throw temper tantrums during his pro HQ2 rants; made me lose my appetite. He’s blaming local politicians but maybe he needs to look in the mirror too.

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Chris

Same. I saw his tantrums in front of the local press cameras as well as his racist comments about minority owned businesses in the area and the local housing projects just north of the bridge. Sub par bbq, with a loud mouth owner. no big loss.

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Gregory G McAndrews

another Cuomo/DeBlasio casualty.Their failed leadership has turned this city into an unlivable hell hole,

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All-time high unemployment under Trump

Agreed, with the economy in shambles it’s hard for the working class

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D Wags

These politicians are idiots!! Thank AOC and the people who voted for her!!! Sad good luck at your other location, unfortunately you’ll still be dealing with out great politicians! 😡

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20yrresident

Thanks Councilman Jimmy Van Brammer (a.k.a. Jimmy Van Job Killer) and State Sen. Michael Gianaris (a.k.a. “no jobs Gianaris “). You both killed the Amazon deal 16 months ago. It would have been a huge construction project right now employing thousands of workers all hungry for lunch in the LIC neighborhood, one block down the street from John Browns Smokehouse as well as many other LIC restaurants and businesses. But bc of your political pandering and selfishness, this and all other LIC small businesses will never see that revenue. You helped to kill those businesses too. But perhaps even more importantly, Amazon would have paid at a minimum $27 billion in taxes to NY over the next 10 years. $27 Billion! WOW – after the economic fallout our city is facing from Covid 19, we could have really used that tax revenue! Our subways surely could have really used those funds. But you foolishlychased it all away for your personal political gain.. Please advise, but be very specific, as to exactly what plan you have now to raise that kind of tax revenue. I strongly suspect you got nothing!

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J

Sorry, what revenue? Amazon expected NY to pay them to be here. You really think they would’ve been here by now and chomping down on some dry brisket?

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20yrresident

The construction workers would have been here by now, eating brisket sandwiches and visiting all the other restaurants nearby that are really suffering now.
And “what revenue” you ask? Amazon agreed in writing to an annual tax bill of $3 billion a year over 10 years, with a 10% discount, so they were obligating themselves to pay $2.7 billion a year – that’s $27 billion. Google it – then tell us all – where are we going to get that kind of tax revenue now that Van Bramer and Gianaris chased it away?!

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Now what?

You do not understand the deal. Like AOC. JVB and Giannaris understood. They just did not care. They were excluded from the glory of the deal, and their egos just could not deal with it. The city/state was going to FORGIVE (NOT give) 3 billion $ in taxes based on job creation and on 30 billion $ in taxes paid. Really not hard to understand, and incomprehensible that anyone would not want this deal.

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Captain anonymous

This is fine example of someone who had never owned a business or property, had to pay employees or did anything significant that required financing or rudimentary understanding of economics – because if you did you would realize how delusional you sound

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Lucia

It’s so sad to hear again another mom n pop restaurant closing it’s doors. I too own a restaurant in greenpoint operating 7 yrs and very proud to be a female in this very difficult industry working long hours overcoming so many struggles to open. Whether it be financial, health,hurricanes, and now Covid-19 I am blessed to have a wonderful husband and staff that worked so hard as a team to push forward as well as great customers that are so supportive. If only our politicians had the same work ethics, and passion as all of us in the restaurant industry have. We love serving our customers and do it with character and pride, we respect and frequent other restaurants to help support one another. This is what our politicians are supposed to be doing working together not against each other this is not a pissing contest blaming each like 10 yr olds. Help the restaurant industry right now how many more have to close? We need funding (grants) now this is our livelihoods they are playing with. We all want to open in door dining asap we all want to work to support our families and get on with making NYC the great vibrant and exciting place it is. Stop our politicians from destroying our city and putting our beloved restaurants out of business before it’s too late!!!!!

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J Jiuliano

Been going there for years, without a doubt the best burnt ends ever. Sad to see it closing, but happy they are relocating

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your_neighbor

Always excellent food, drink and service at JB’s. Josh seems like a good man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and possesses what is quickly disappearing around here – common sense.
The Mothership Meat Company location is a bit off the beaten track, hopefully the super John Brown Smokehouse food will get people there. I’ll definitely see you there.

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Where will we get dry brisket NOW?

Isn’t that the guy that loves Fox News and threatened JVB?

It’s too bad the record low economy and skyrocketing COVID cases are causing another business to close.

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