“We’re not guessing what the arts community might be into, because we’re already in it,” Zach Glass told B+B on Monday. Another hybrid bar-something is coming near the Williamsburg-Bushwick border on a block of Morgan populated by artist studios, rumbling warehouses, and an awesome smelling spice distributor.
Our Wicked Lady is the ambitious project dreamed up by Zach and two of his pals, Wayne Gordon and Keith Hamilton. All three not only have years of experience in the Brooklyn music and art scene, they’ve also put in some serious time behind the bar. In fact the trio met working as bartenders at Brooklyn Bowl. “The big mistake is that a lot of people who open bars have never worked in a bar,” Gordon said.
Mix one part Baby’s All Right, and two parts Brooklyn Fire Proof and you’ve got Our Wicked Lady, which will be anchored by a bar and venue (complete with a rooftop patio) and will house nine practice spaces for bands downstairs, and artist studios upstairs. “We definitely want to have an artist community vibe,” Glass explained. “We’re trying to create a self-contained scene.”
The curious name of the establishment-on-the-horizon, located at 153 Morgan Avenue, is equally informed by music as it it is by bar culture. “We named a bar after a band named after a beer,” Wayne wrote in an e-mail. “For us, working behind the bar for over 40 years combined and of course drinking for longer, the bar culture has become ‘our wicked lady’; you love her ever so dearly in the moment but, of course, when you wake up with empty pockets and that killer hangover you curse her. But after all is said and done, there’s simply no one better.”
During our visit to the construction site on Monday, a huge dumpster sat in the middle of what will be the ground-floor bar, and a cloud of gray dust hung in the air. Clearly, they’ve got a long way to go, as drawings for the renovation plans depict an ambitious redesign. But the crew had their liquor license and building permits approved in June. “This is day zero,” Glass said. “And we’re hoping for a four month build-out.”
The trio emphasize they are taking what they’ve learned over the years renting practice space and are committed to providing quality studios. “I used to rent out space at this place and the rooms were so shitty, we were paying like $700 a month for like an 80-square-foot room,” Glass explained. “If you were rehearsing next door and I was rehearsing at the same time, I heard every single note you were playing.”
Affordability is a factor, though not necessarily the major theme of Our Wicked Lady. “We don’t want these to be heroin dens that cost twenty bucks a month, or have people living in them,” Glass said. “That’s why we’re not going to be charging rock-bottom prices, but we’re going to try and be really competitive.”
One thing that will maintain affordability by everyone’s definition, however, is how much it will cost you to walk through the door on any given night. The trio revealed they’re aiming for all the shows at Our Wicked Lady to be totally free. “That’s the dream,” Zach said.
And the shows will be not only eclectic, but the trio say they are committed to hosting high quality acts. Wayne is a producer and works at Brooklyn’s Daptone Records, and as musicians, both Keith and Zach have connections in the industry as well. “We want it to be a certain vibe in here,” Zach explained.“We don’t want to have to have a house DJ spin every Friday night.”
Keith chimed in: “The last thing we want is ’80s cover bands.”
“You know how Bushwick is. There are pockets of development. There’s some stuff that’s starting around here and our hope is that this becomes the next pocket, ideally with us at the center of it,” Zach said.
Look out for the artists’ studios to become available sometime after October and the bar’s grand opening by the end of the year.