Goodbye to Schnack – A Brooklyn Life

So we hit up Schnack Sunday night to say goodbye. And although one of the employees confirmed the restaurant was closing, he said he didn’t know when. Did I mention that when we showed up at 6 p.m. we were the only ones there? Two more tables trickled in after we ordered.
For our goodbye meal we bucked our usual fries and went with onion rings. They were missing some of the seasoning I remember, but were otherwise satisfyingly crisp and just greasy enough. An hour or so later, it hit me that pregnant women probably shouldn’t eat onion rings if severe heartburn is in any way bothersome (it is), but I can’t blame Schnack on that.
Burgers were, as always, tender, juicy and delicious sandwiched between their fluffy white mini buns and coated in that addictive Schnack sauce.  You can say many things about why Schnack has fallen from its perch, but it’s not the quality or tastiness of its slider. I think you could even make a pretty convincing argument that Schnack helped kick off the New York slider trend and did so with quite a bang.
So what is the reason for its descent from glorious burger haven to rundown, just-about-to-be-closed burger shack (besides reported loss of lease)? Well, I think raising the prices was a mistake. Or at least it was a mistake when patrons have to put up with generally incompetent service, unsurprising moments like flat draft root beer ($3.50 each), and an overall feeling that no one has cared about what condition the dining room is in, in quite some time. That, and no more beer at the restaurant that pioneered the beer shake (you can bring your own). Just like our root beer, the fizz is gone.
There are rumors that it will relaunch in a new location, and I hope if and when it does, a few lessons are learned.
I live a block from Schnack and used to be a weekly regular. I’d say the decline happened in early 2005 when the quality of the food started to suffer. They changed their slider buns to a dry, stale, wheat-like version and the quality of the ground beef went down hill. I made several comments to staff and owners who only said they had been getting a lot of complaints but didn’t know if they were going to switch back. After having the same bad experience over and over, I finally stopped going. My theory is they started to cut back on cost by buying lower quality foods, and it was noticeable. The place was getting pretty run down and dirty also. Too bad. This place WAS really special in it’s day.