July 27, 2020 By Asha MacKay
After 12 years in business, Claret Wine Bar in Sunnyside has undergone a makeover.
The popular wine and tapas spot—located on the corner of Skillman Avenue and 46th Street–was closed for nearly four months but reopened two weeks ago after co-owners Jean Clancy and Niall Costello gave it a revamp.
The pair spent the month of June giving the venue a paint job and working on the expansion of the venue’s sidewalk seating area.
After months of uncertainty due to COVID-19, Clancy says they are “delighted to be back.”
A team of friends, family and neighbors helped give Claret a new look during the lockdown. People reached out to Clancy over Facebook and texted her to volunteer their time.
She said they freshened the wine bar’s look with nothing more than the cost of supplies.
“It was a very humbling experience… Sunnyside is a very strong community,” Clancy said.
The paint and new furniture was financed by a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which has also helped Claret bring all of its employees back.
Servers have rotated shifts throughout the week to give everyone a chance to get back in the bar, Clancy said.
Claret has been able to take advantage of its corner location, which has provided it with twice the sidewalk space for patrons. The wine bar had already provided outdoor seating on the 46th Street side of the venue and has expanded onto Skillman Avenue this summer.
Claret’s current outdoor seating takes up two metered parking spaces on Skillman Avenue, but according to Clancy the loss of spaces has not posed a problem.
Clancy says that the expansion of outdoor seating has reinvigorated the neighborhood and created an uplifting atmosphere.
“It gives a very continental feel, really gives a lovely summery vibe to the neighborhood so I hope the city considers [keeping] it in the future,” Clancy said.
Clancy said that it is good to see people come out again and circulate.
“It’s the weirdest thing because you haven’t seen anybody for months, even among regulars who haven’t seen each other,” she said.
Clancy and Costello are grateful for their existing relationships with vendors and the community to ease back in. “We’re open again, open earlier, delighted to be back, and we have incredible help from friends and volunteers,” Clancy said.
“In a way it’s like opening up for the first time all over again,” Clancy said.