Lions Beerstore—an all-in-one gastropub, retail store, and self-described beer consultancy—will open Monday in Spice’s former home at Second Avenue and East Sixth Street.
The founders, Alex Pitsionas, 35, and his father Sakis, 58, are from Thessaloniki, Greece, where they started as alcohol wholesalers and, six years ago, opened the first Beerstore a block away from the Thermaic Gulf coast.
Alex hand-picked each of the over 300 bears that Lions Beerstore will sell. The vast selection should, Alex thinks, satisfy any individual taste, but also, and more importantly, offer an opportunity to cultivate a sagacious appreciation of craft beer. When there isn’t a major sporting event on, the flatscreen television perched over the bar will show videos of breweries and craftsmen working their trade.
“This will not be a shady dive bar,” Alex said sternly. “But it won’t be an upscale place either. I want this to be a warm, welcoming place where you can bring your friends, your date, or your parents.”
Alex, a bespectacled 35-year-old with a round bearded face, looks like an adjunct professor and he may as well be one when it comes to beer. He has strong opinions about beer but he can’t stand snobbery.
“In Europe people are very snobby when it comes to U.S. beer. But they only talk about Budweiser, which of course is a terrible beer. I actually think America has the best craft beer scene in the world. What’s funny is that I’ve found Americans are snobby towards European beers. I want to bring everyone together.”When it comes to Europe, Alex is enthusiastic about the beer scenes in Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy. For all you international relations nerds wondering what Alex thinks of German beers: “I like them but they are very flat. Germans are against experimentation so their craft beer scene is not very good.” He assures us that back home German beers are largely enjoyed and, at least in his pub, there’s no resentment felt towards German products.
Even the venue itself has the feeling of a comfortable study. Almost everything is made of wood: the paneled ceiling, the floor, the shelves that will house a library of beers, the bar and the trunk columns connecting it to the ceiling, and the tables. The scent is deliciously wooden. The chairs and stools are iron-framed with gray upholstery. Towards the back is an exposed brick wall. A soft orange glow from the lights makes it seem like a fireplace burns nearby.
The food menu has not been set yet. Alex envisions a fusion of American and European pub food that complements the beers. Select Greek wines and sodas will also be available.
In addition to beer, hand-crafted German mugs and wooden gift boxes will be available as retail items.
Lions Beerstore opens Monday, November 9, at 104 Second Avenue, at East 6th St., East Village; open Monday-Sunday, 11am-1am