Bushwick seems to be getting more and more middling operations that eschew the slickness of places like Williamsburg Hall of Music but are nevertheless a foot above the gritty underground DIY venues that are becoming a thing of memory. This Thursday night, when brand new dive bar and venue Gold Sounds has its grand opening party (pssst– with FREE booze), you can add one more to the pile of bar/venues like Alphaville and Sunnyvale.
Chip Su and Cenk Eryaman say they want Gold Sounds to be a “classic dive bar” that’s anything but “gimmicky.” The co-owners, as New Island Entertainment Group, have a hand in two more North Brooklyn operations: The Shop, a sprawling newish barbecue spot in Bushwick, and Williamsburg’s Black Bear Bar, where they take care of the venue side of the business. While they aren’t exactly residents of the neighborhood, Chip said they definitely wanted a piece of that Bushwick-boom pie. “I’ve seen the area is up-and-coming– everybody has started going in and I just thought, I think we should go in as well,” Chip explained. “I’m sure in the next five years this area will be completely different, so before it’s too late we decided to snatch it.”
Two years in the works, Gold Sounds is Chip and Cenk’s first ground-up operation in which they’ve had full creative control over the place since the very beginning. “Between Chip and myself, we’ve been working in the bar business for so long, in all aspects of it– everything from bar back, bartender, sound guy, promoter, booker, manager– that we know each element of the bar and what it requires for it to run successfully,” Cenk explained. The neighbors will probably be pleased to hear this, seeing as just a few years back the space was home to the short-lived Bushwick Coffee House (which Bushwick Daily dubbed, inexplicably, “a pure hedonism”) and then, briefly, Morgan Town Bar, which Cenk described as a “Spanish-themed bar with not a whole lot going on.” That last venture’s short life may have been owed to the high number of DOB complaints the building racked up for “illegal renovation.”
(The new owners appear to have proceeded with their own gut renovations by the book. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t bother the neighbors, so each wall is about eight inches thick,” Chip laughed.)
Gold Sounds is divided between a regular bar space in the front (complete with DJ booth and jukebox) and a proper show space in the back that boasts a brand new professional stage, a solid back end for musicians, and major soundproofing. The place is fit for both knocking back several stiff drinks and seeing a show. “There are so many bars opening up right now that have a ‘70s theme, or an ‘80s theme, or whatever theme,” Cenk lamented. “We were just kind of keeping with the basics of what makes a traditional dive bar, which is cheap booze, good music, and that’s it.”
Even if the owners insist a theme bar Gold Sounds is not, Cenk betrayed that perhaps the bar is a little bit guided by a sense of nostalgia. “It’s loosely a late-’70s, early punk sort of thing– which is my style,” he said.
The space, while still in need of a good sweep-n-tidy to banish the last of the sawdust, is dark and preternaturally gritty despite the coats of fresh paint. Save for the wood working, a Jameson placard, and some retro-looking black vinyl chairs scattered about, there’s not much in the way of flash here. But truthfully, there’s no other way for a dive bar to be. Anyway, the black booths and cushy leather bar stools are all about getting patrons comfortable enough to want to stay a while, and the drink prices can’t hurt to that end either. “We’re going to go real cheap on it,” Cenk explained. That includes a $5 shot special called the High Five, which includes a High Life and a well shot, in addition to a daily happy hour. “It’ll either be 4 pm to 7 pm or 4 pm to 8 pm,” Cenk said, though no word on the specifics of that just yet.
Of course, there’s something to be had for the fancy-pants in your life by way of a five-drink house cocktail menu. If you’re inclined to clean out your wallet for finely swizzled dranks, rest assured you can rely on a liquid dinner to fill you up, and cheap bar snacks to keep you from puking. Gold Sounds will offer 12 varieties of empanadas at $2 each or three for $5. And even better, the old-school jukebox (trend alert?) is completely free of charge.
As for the live music, Cenk said they’re “just trying to keep it rock n’ roll– indie, punk, stuff like that.” Tickets for shows will be $10 and under, all the way down to free at the 150 capacity venue. And depending on the night, live music will either blast throughout the bar, or be confined to the back room while DJs spin up front. As for other happenings, Chip said they’re game for almost anything. “We’re open to all kinds of events that are geared toward the neighborhood– comedy all that kind of stuff.” However, there will be one marked exclusion. “I don’t know if I should say this, I probably shouldn’t,” Chip said. “But we will not do hip hop as much– because the neighbors, I don’t want to create any problems, especially in the early stages.”
I pressed to see exactly what he meant by this remark about hip hop. Chip tried to clarify: “We just want to respect the area– when you’re a new business you want to make sure that you get to know people around here before you jump in,” he said. “Mostly we’re trying to cater to locals– we have a good space with an awesome sound system, and we’re trying to give it back to the locals who we have worked with for years.”
And yet, in spite of not wanting to “jump in” before getting to know people, after being in soft-open mode since last Friday, Gold Sounds will officially open its doors with a bang this Thursday, March 10 with a full hour of open-bar mayhem and music acts including Alyson Greenfield and Mattie Safer (formerly of The Rapture) to boot. Earlier today, it looked like the owners were preparing for a whole lot of guzzling to go down– Chip was already stocking a plethora of bottom-of-the-barrel tequila.
Gold Sounds is located at 44 Wilson Avenue in Bushwick.