Frank Perkins, Owner of Legendary Bar Frank’s Cocktail Lounge, Dies at 88

Frank’s Cocktail Lounge may be one of the few outposts against gentrification. The reason? Its owner Frank Perkins. He passed on at the end of this past January, but left a rich legacy behind.

His Fort Greene bar has been a neighborhood hotspot since its founding, and is open seven nights a week. It has hosted performances from such legends as the late funk singer Sharon Jones and the saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, who worked with Jimi Hendrix.

Besides live music, Frank’s Cocktail Lounge also became known for other events. The “Grown and Sexy Karaoke” night takes place each Wednesday. Birthday parties for Frank and his family were always publicly celebrated. They featured a catered buffet and, for Frank’s birthday, red velvet cake.

The bar itself has remain virtually unchanged over the years, even as apartment buildings have grown up around it. Its red awning and “dancing martini” logo are instantly recognizable. The inside has now acquired a vintage charm, with photos of pop legends and a jukebox always loaded with R&B hits. Frank had his own regular table, located by the window.

Frank was born in 1931 in South Carolina. He moved to the Bronx as a teenager in order to be with his family. Before opening the Lounge, Frank was involved in real estate. He worked at his father’s realty company on Kingston Avenue, and managed the Fulton Street joint Club 722. In 1974, Frank’s interests moved not much farther down the street to 660 Fulton. He purchased the building, opened Frank’s, and the rest is history.

His funeral was held at the Bethany Baptist Church. It was a lively affair, complete with preaching chords on the organ and praise hands from the audience. Reverend David A. Hampton delivered the eulogy. He said that “Frank’s is a place where you go to bond.”

Indeed, the neighborhood later celebrated Frank’s life with a “going home party” at the bar. Guests of all ages swayed to blues rhythms, talking and laughing – just like Frank would have wanted.

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