Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Put A Bar In It: The Many Brooklyn Businesses Now Serving Booze

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Here's something we bet you haven't heard before: times is tough out there, in the faltering U.S. economy. Especially if you're trying to run a small business. But you know what people will never, ever stop spending money on? Booze. Lots of it, at all hours of the day and in all situations.

So when Matthew Winn, the owner of Bushwick's newly opened bookstore Molasses told the Daily News this week that the shop would soon also house a bar (it already includes a cafe), we were hardly surprised.

As Winn wisely puts it, “In the 21st century you might need to be more open to subsidizing the fetish of selling physical literature with other things.”

And it's true! Even if you're in a less endangered industry than the used books business, what better way to ensure a steady flow of patrons into your business than to — say it with us now — Put A Bar In It?

Let's take a look at a few other Brooklyn businesses that have gotten on the "bar-slash" bandwagon, and a few others we think should take the hint.

  • Cobra Club

Cobra Club

Another recent addition to the business-with-a-bar scene, Bushwick's Cobra Club is the only yoga studio we know of that also includes a bar.

The idea has been met with a bit of skepticism (some of it from us), but their mission statement makes a pretty convincing case: "We reject the idea that in order to live full and happy lives we must abstain from all vices, detach from the world and become saint-like. We embrace our vices for the value they bring to our lives."

Plus, co-owner Nikki Koch points out, it makes things much easier to meet people or just hang out after a class when the bar's already right there, and "everything is better after yoga... when you leave that yoga class its really the best version of yourself."

Whether you're trying to get laid or just really relax (not that they're in any way mutually exclusive), this is a pretty ingenious way to do it.

Sycamore Bar & Flowershop

Can you think of a better place to take a date than a combination bar and boutique flower shop with an idyllic backyard and a bring-your-own-food policy? Seriously, try me.

This Ditmas Park oasis also doubles (triples?) as a music venue and is available for rental as a small event space.

Whatever that thing is financial types are always telling you about "diversifying," these people have it down.


Nitehawk Cinema

In case you haven't already been to this Williamsburg cornerstone, allow us to just summarize and tell you it's everything you've ever dreamed of in a movie theater.

Two different bars, mood lighting, cocktails and food tailored specifically to whatever you're seeing, waitstaff coming right to your seat for refills, plenty of midnight and brunch screenings.

They're certainly not the first movie theater to come up with the drinks-and-dinner model, but we'd argue they're the best.



Williamsburg's beloved movie rental store Videology will soon join the drinks-and-a-movie game, with a planned re-opening this fall that will include, of course, a bar.

"As you can probably guess, the DVD rental business isn't what it used to be," explains co-owner Wendy Chamberlain. "It was clear to us that we would need to change with the times in order to stay in business [and] we have, we think, found a way to keep renting movies while offering something new and fun in the neighborhood: a bar specializing in movie experiences."

The spruced up store will soon include a screening room that Chamberlain says will also play host to "trivia, guest appearances, bingo, comedy, dress-up, food specials, games, much much more, and, of course, drinking."

Obviously, we welcome all of these changes with open arms (and gullets).

Now, let's take a look at a few places we wish would get on board on start serving us some damn drinks.


Daycare centers

Show me the person who doesn't desperately want a drink in a room full of toddlers, and I will show you a person who is probably already self-medicating with pills.

Aside from the obvious necessity here, maybe it would actually be nice to have a more grown-up, laid back environment in which to make small talk with the other parents or whatever it is you do at these places.

And, word on the street there's a very built-in clientele for this, what with Brooklyn's boom of alcoholic "regressive" moms.

Don't worry, squares, it's not like they'd be serving drinks to the actual babies. Except before naptime.


The Subway
Suburban train commuters are allowed drink in peace on the way home from work, so why shouldn't we?

Just hear me out: you get off work, you're standing on the platform, sweaty and quietly hating everyone around you for no real reason. Wouldn't a nice, legal drink, not wrapped in a paper bag, make things a whole hell of a lot nicer? Say, a frosty, portable gin and tonic, purchased at one of those kiosks with candy and outdated magazines?

Half the people on the train are already drunk or acting like it anyway, so this wouldn't really amp up societal ills all that much, we suspect.


Cheap Nail Salons

Beauty Bar has the spa-treatments-while-you-drink thing down, but even when Bushwick's scrappy branch of the chain was still open, they didn't actually offer anything of the sort.

No, it was only dirt cheap liquor. RIP Beauty Bar.

Anyway, the point is that this niche is just waiting to be filled, for all the obvious reasons. After all, if you're already Treating Yo Self to a manicure or what have you, chances are you're also in the mood to throw a drink in on top of it.

As for the more painful spa treatments (the ones that involve ripping things from your body), nothing takes the edge off quite like a few pre-emptive shots of whiskey. Trust me.


Record Stores

In the same vein as used bookstores or DVD rentals, we're thinking the record business could really use those extra profits that the sale of alcohol would undoubtedly rake in.

And think about it: wouldn't you browse longer in a nice space, drink in hand, instead of shrinking under the judgmental eyes of whatever garage rock buff is behind the counter?

Plus, this could be a pretty effective meet market. After all, the only thing that makes music geeks talk more than simply being in the presence of vinyl is being in the presence of vinyl, drunk.

Uh, on second thought we may have to rescind this one.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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About The Author

Virginia K. Smith

Virginia K. Smith

Virginia K. Smith is the Assistant Editor at The L Magazine and a Bushwick resident. Her profile picture was taken at Summerscreen, because she is a real team player.

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