St. John Frizell has been through a lot over the past four months. His much-loved Red Hook restaurant, Fort Defiance, was nearly destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. “We got six to eight feet of water in the dining room, and the basement was completely flooded,” Frizell said when he spoke with Jesse Schafer and Greg McHale of Radio On the Real. Yet, four months later, the restaurant is fully in business and looks like it barely sustained any damage. Frizell is grateful to every single person who volunteered to help rebuild his bar and continues to serve his community in any way he can.
While the story of how Frizell salvaged his bar while also rallying support from the entire neighborhood (he’s been at the forefront of the Restore Red Hook movement) is inspiring, the tales of his pre-Fort life in New York are equally engaging.
As a young Park Slope resident, Frizell worked days as a copywriter at Bon Appetit and threw yearly fish-fry events off the fire escape of his apartment. The feeling back then was very “Park Slope versus The World,” an attitude that Frizell has clearly applied to helping rebuild his neighborhood. He also explains that the idea for Fort Defiance was formed on the vaguely European concept of “The Third Place,” i.e. not your home or office but that other place you visit. It’s a seemingly simple explanation of a feeling that can’t be faked — the kind of comfort that comes from existing in a space that is run by someone else — and it’s exactly the atmosphere that Fort Defiance is known for.
Listen to the entire interview here.