Kilo Bravo, North Williamsburg’s newest bar, is right off of Bedford Avenue, a couple of blocks from the new Diesel pop-up. So it wasn’t surprising that I had to fight through a throng of European tourists on the corner to get to the door. What was surprising was to find a place that neither screams gimmicky tourist trap nor cliche Williamsburg. Recycled barn wood, petite Parisian tables, and vintage taps were nowhere to be found at Kilo Bravo.
“It’s really just a neighborhood spot with an American soul and a hint of rock n’ roll,” explained owner Kate Buenaflor, all smiles under her camo hat. She’s certainly not the jaded and distant owner service industry vets might be familiar with, which is surprising because she’s been in the business for a while, as owner of nine-year-old Soft Spot.
“When we did Soft Spot, in the beginning we had a different mind set. Northside is a different place now,” she said. And unlike the Soft Spot, which is a pretty straightforward spot to soak up some two-for-ones with a couple of friends, Kilo Bravo has some really inventive things happening.
Though Kilo certainly has a theme, you wouldn’t know it walking in. There are only hints of Buenflor’s playfulness– subtle details like Janis Joplin peering out from one of the mirrors– until you take a look at the menu, which features 50 cocktails, one for each state. If customers are down for the road-trip challenge, the bartender will give you a loyalty card. For each state cocktail you drink, you get a stamp and once you’ve completed them all, Buenaflor promises the bar will throw you a Welcome Home Party. “You get to drink for free and you pick two drinks off the menu to be the special for that night– maybe you liked them, or maybe you hated them– but you can invite your friends and they can take advantage of the deal,” she explained. “Some of the cocktails are delicious, but some of them are a little intimidating, but that’s kind of the fun of it.”
A few of the Road Trip Cocktails are predictable– the Mint Julep is repping for Kentucky, and the Bronx Cocktail stands in for New York. But others are head-scratchers like the Iowa Sunrise (vodka, rum, lemonade, orange juice, grenadine, topped with Sprite).
Kilo Bravo also has a food menu with two categories of sandwiches (grilled cheese and slow-cooked beef), of which there are several varieties ranging from $7 to $14. Buenaflor said Kilo Bravo will also be offering a $5 happy hour menu which includes the Heartland sandwich (beef, pickled pepper mayo, pickled peppers and Provolone cheese), 24 oz. cans of Budweiser, and even a cocktail, the Manhattan.
The menu is geared toward drawing in people from the surrounding area. “I’m happy to have people come in from out of town, that’s awesome, but it’s really important for me that the neighborhood knows they can come here and feel right at home,” Buenaflor said.
As a resident of Williamsburg for over a decade (she lives just a block away), Buenaflor has seen the neighborhood transform. Some of her favorite bars and restaurants have closed up shop, which was part of the motivation for opening up Kilo Bravo. “Soft Spot is an amazing place, but I realized a few years ago that maybe I wouldn’t get to stay,” she explained. “So it was like, alright– time to look for a new place. And even if I have both [bars] at the same time, that’s amazing, but it did occur to me as I started seeing my favorite places closing, that it might happen to me.”
Despite the changes and resulting challenges for small business owners, Kate is taking it all in stride. “But it’s awesome what’s happening around here, I’m really excited about it. And it just different, you just treat it different.”
Kilo Bravo will have its grand opening on Friday, September 4.
Click on the thumbnails to see the food and (non-Road Trip) drink menu below.
Kilo Bravo, Kilo Bravo, 180 N. 10th Street, bet. Bedford and Driggs Avenues