For the past 13 years, Bed-Stuy resident Douglas Anderson has run a successful construction company on Decatur Street.
As a contractor and a carpenter, he can build virtually anything.
That’s why when he got the idea of opening a new café and bar in Bed-Stuy, he didn’t have to look far for help. He just started sketching out his idea on paper and began building it himself.
By June 2012, his vision was complete: A cozy, comfortable and stylish bar and lounge called “My Arena,” located at 557 Classon Avenue, just south of Fulton Street.
Although the name might evoke images of an armory or sports field, don’t get it twisted, its name has little to do with its size (it’s approximately 450 square feet). The name speaks more accurately to the ambiance— like you’ve walked into your own, personal play space.
It feels like a den, with all of the accouterments for nighttime entertaining: A beer and wine bar that also serves coffee, tea and appetizers, complete with two televisions and comfy couches with throw pillows.
“Every inch of this space, I try to make it useful and catching to the eye,” said Anderson, a Bed-Stuy resident for the past 40 years. “Every night, I sit back, design something new on paper and then begin building it out. I want people to feel comfortable, but always like they’re in a classy environment.
The bar/lounge is tucked in such a way on the avenue that gives patrons a sense of privacy. And for those who want to remain “in the cut,” but still get a bit of fresh air, the lounge has outdoor seating.
My Arena truly is a D.I.Y. family affair, co-managed by Anderson and his wife Yolanda who also does much of the cooking. Now Anderson is sketching the plans to break through the side wall and eventually build out a dining area where they can begin to serve full dinner entrees. He said the dining room should be completed by December.
“So far, the neighborhood has been very supportive. Elected officials have stopped through and regularly hold meetings in here; locals have started holding their birthday parties here,” he said. “I like the changes I see taking place in the neighborhood, because when residents begin to see nice things around them, it changes their demeanor. Even their conversations change.”
My Arena is located across the street from two other food establishments that have recently opened in the last four months, Alice’s Arbor and Busy Bee. But Anderson said they’re all very friendly, supportive and make it a point to patronize each other.
“It’s more important to have a positive business relationship than act as competitors,” Anderson said. “Because we’re all here to do the same thing, which is service the community.”
My arena is open Monday through Friday, from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, and on Saturday and Sunday, from 1:00 p.m. until midnight.