Jimmy Duff is a wanted man. Needed, actually. In our city’s glut of tired dives that proffer crusted-over beer glasses and call it character, Jimmy Duff’s bar is the genuine article. The former co-owner of Hell’s Kitchen beloved watering hole Bellevue returns this month with his wholly owned Williamsburg establishment, a smaller version of his own apartment “with just a little bit more alcohol.” What elevates Duff’s beyond mere Williamsburg rocker hang is the New Jersey native’s inimitable sense of humor and unmistakable style; all Duff-designed establishments serve as homage to his loves and years of flea-market scavenging. Vintage porn playing cards are cast into tables; Jesus kitsch rests on the jukebox; and posters of Alien illustrator H.R. Giger’s finer works take center stage. There’s also the omnipresent image of Dancing Dominick, a 79-year-old Bellevue regular who passed away three years ago and danced like “your grandfather on crack.” Dancing Dom’s even in the jukebox, a photo of his face superimposed on the CD covers of Stevie Wonder, White Stripes, and the Misfits.
But we expect no less from a man who drives around in his own custom-designed hearse. Though Duff’s sold his “Reserved for Bin Laden” hearse, he’s back in action with a pimped-out, disco-diva ’78 Cadillac that he’d like you to know took first prize in the modified car category at 2003’s Mermaid Parade. Sigh.
Welcome back, Jimmy. We sure as hell missed you.