A Pocket-Sized Wine Bar with Outsized Character
Suzy Darling, long-time dancer and self-proclaimed champion of female empowerment, provides a space where her entertainment industry employees can sing.
Since starting her dance career at the age of 12—eventually taking her talents to the hallowed halls of Radio City—Suzy Darling has spent the better part of her life cultivating a network of inspiring women in the arts. Unfortunately, through side gigs and part time jobs, she came to learn they had one thing in common: tumultuous tales of working in the service industry.
So Suzy decided to open a place where talented women could work in a safe, supported environment and patrons could be accepted for who they are. Thus, Pocket Bar was born. Serving a concise menu of wine and beer, Pocket Bar delights customers with its infectious energy—and a box of popcorn with every drink.
But her biggest achievement, according to her, is creating a community built on acceptance, support, and love.
OK, so we found you because we were asked if we knew about the "former Rockette turned bar-owner" — please tell us more about your background
I moved to NYC at 12 years old when I received a scholarship to study at Alvin Ailey dance studio. From there, I danced in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for 8 years. After a stint on tour with Elvis Costello, I found myself back in NYC.
My love of entertaining took on a new life as a bar owner. Pocket Bar is my new stage. It’s such a blessing to get to introduce people from far and wide to the best parts of the City, while also making them feel right at home—and Hell’s Kitchen is a perfect backdrop. Its diversity is what makes it unique, while its proximity to Broadway brings performers pre-and-post show to get energized or unwind.
We hear you serve free popcorn with drinks. Tell us about how that started, and how you found the fabulous beer taps.
I was talking with some friends about how much Pocket Bar felt like our new stage and someone said, “Quick, get the popcorn so I can watch the show unfold.” We laughed, and the next morning I brought the first box of popcorn to the bar. Ten years later, here we are, serving popcorn in the cutest little containers.
The beer taps are another great story—or, should I say, each one tells a story! They’re all custom made, gifted from friends and regulars, and they all contribute to the unique ambiance that makes Pocket Bar so special. They’re great conversation starters, especially for guests that pop in solo.
You have some amazing people behind the bar. What did you look for when building your team?
It all started with our core values: Inclusivity, community, and safety. We’re rooted in the creative community, whether it be theater, arts, film, or anything in between. Most of all, we wanted to create a place for people to have fun and make memories.
We find that our all-star staff exudes charisma, tenacity, and just a bit of whimsy. Most of all, they can put on a show. Many of our staff members are performers, and they are the most talented group of humans out there. You never know who might be working each night, but what I can guarantee is: You’re in for a night of fun.
What makes you excited to do what you do every day? Any funny anecdotes or stories about Pocket Bar?
The best part of every day is that they’re all different. You never know who you’re going to meet. You don’t know whose life you’re going to change just by making them feel special, seen, or heard. It’s great to add a bit of sunshine to their day.
The coolest person we’ve ever had in Pocket Bar was Yoko Ono! She even bussed her own table. But our regulars are truly what make Pocket Bar so special. Each member of our Pocket Bar community are cool, badass celebs in their own right.
If you could give visitors one piece of advice for their stay in the neighborhood, what would it be?
Get the meatloaf at The Marshal. Trust me.
“Many of our staff members are performers, and they are the most talented group of humans out there.”
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