Allow us to float an idea: a bar on a barge off of Greenpoint. “It’s weird,” Will Drawbridge admits, but he means weird in a good way: he wants to bring Brooklyn Barge Bar to the East River this spring. Hey, in a world of water-tower bars, anything’s possible.
According to Drawbridge, the bar will be a casual waterfront hangout where people can come to relax in the summer months. It will seat about 120 to 140 people with some of the tables located on the shore, and the food will be simple (think hot dogs and salads). A basket of fries will set you back $4, and the most expensive item, a steak with a side salad and corn on the cob, will go for $23.
Drawbridge hopes a new local haunt on the water will help foster appreciation for Greenpoint’s waterfront, and he plans to do much more than just open a bar. He wants to create a community space on the land he plans to lease at 91 West Street to host everything from farmer’s markets to yoga classes to popup art shows (he hopes to finalize the lease this Friday). Eventually he wants to put in kayak storage and have a kayak launch. He stressed the fact that he will not be using the existing structure at 91 West Street, just the open space next to it.
The barge itself is currently being prettified upstate for its Greenpoint debut, scheduled for May 1. Drawbridge said the 30-by-90-foot boat is a flat, stable surface of only one level. “It’s like a flat piece of land that’s floating on the water,” he explained. “It feels like you’re on a pier; you don’t notice you’re on the water.” The bar will stay open until Oct. 31, weather permitting.
Drawbridge said he understands that people may have safety concerns (drunk people falling overboard being the most obvious), but he believes his 18 years of experience working at the floating bar the Frying Pan, in Chelsea, has equipped him with the knowledge necessary to keep people safe. “I was ‘that guy,’” he said of his role at the Frying Pan, adding that he helped them set up their infrastructure and host events, among other things.
“I’m following the same recipes that worked for them,” Drawbridge said. He said there have been no major incidents at the Frying Pan, which he believes is mainly due to their security company, Pearl Security. He said the name is misleading—they specialize more in safety than security—and he plans to use them as well.
Drawbridge, who grew up in Maine and moved to New York City in 1986, said that once he got to know the Greenpoint community he never looked anywhere else for a place to launch Brooklyn Barge Bar. “It’s really hard to get waterfront real estate, so we got lucky,” he said, adding that what drew him to the neighborhood was the realization that the waterfront there is vastly underutilized.
He said if all goes according to plan with securing the lease, the one remaining hurdle will be securing a liquor license. “I know there’s deep concern about the amount of liquor licenses in the Williamsburg area,” he said, “but we’re in the middle of nowhere in Greenpoint, which is wildly under served, whereas Williamsburg is wildly over served. I’ve talked to people in the area, and everyone is all about it.”