We were so excited about news that Tracy Westmoreland is opening a new bar on Friday that we immediately hopped on the horn and begged the man to share details. He says hes opening tomorrow (hours are 4 p.m. till 4 a.m.) with a party thrown by Jack Bryan, director of the Siberia documentary. Of course, you can also expect some of the documentarys subjects to make an appearance and maybe, just maybe the performance artist who would come to Siberia just to shred paper for an hour. More from Mr. Westmoreland.
You were looking for quite a while. How did you settle on this space?
Really just walking around Brooklyn. I really went out and busted my balls. It was an old I think you gotta be tactful with the word you use lets just say it was a really shady place. Physically, its beautiful. It has to have been a bar for decades and I havent changed a thing. The people that were there left and it was new people the next day. Sort of like a Twilight Zonetype thing.
So youve given it a test run?
I dont do test runs. I dont do openings. But Siberia opened on Halloween were going to open on Good Friday.
So is this the second coming of Siberia?
This place is going to have a life and energy of its own. I treat my bars like theyre my children. This is a child I love, but its a different child.
Does that mean we can expect a rebirth of Siberia, still?
Siberias in the near future.
Youve finally found a space?
No, no, its not like that. You never know the way things are going to work out. But its definitely in the near future.
Okay, so why Prospect Heights?
The location is perfect because of all the people in the neighborhood and a lack of a real bar. Its like a movie set everything looks perfect but theres no love. All the owners care about is making money. I want to have performance art and theater and every six weeks we change the art. Plus I have roof rights.
So, rooftop drinks?
I have the option to do that in the future.
What about bands?
No, its not going to be about bands.
Why the Manhattans?
If youre from Brooklyn like I am, if youre coming to [Manhattan] you say Im going to the city. These kids came up with a new name for the city the Manhattans. I said, This is the perfect idea. If enough people do it, eventually theyre going to be saying Im going to the Manhattans. Will they be saying theyre going to the city or going to my bar? The name was born in Brooklyn, and if people feel offended and they dont like it, they shouldnt come.
Any other personae non grata?
If youre barred from any other bars, dont show up.
So are you going to be selling Manhattans at the Manhattans?
Were not selling Manhattans. This is not a theme bar.
Do you think the city needs a place like this right now in particular? Is it a good time to get back in the game?
I never shouldve gotten out. Everybodys just trying to make money and they have fake bars. This is a real place you can go and enjoy yourself and distract yourself. Thats a lovely thing [in] this day and age.
Is this a good time to be looking for real estate?
The rent is lovely in Brooklyn. Its the best time in my lifetime to be in the bar business. If you walk down the street [and] you see a shoe store, an electronics store, a clothing store, and a bar, chances are six months from now the only one thats going to be open is the bar.
Okay, so rents are low in Brooklyn. What about in the Manhattans?
The landlords in Manhattan dont get it yet. We went to an area where the rents have always been low they were really happy since they charged us twice as much as the other tenant and we think we got a great deal.
How much are you charging for drinks?
Itll be cheap. You know, I ordered a Belvedere and tonic at this place in the neighborhood (it begins with F and ends in Park) and the bartender said it was $9. I said, $9? She said, Yeah, its great. These are happy-hour prices!
The Manhattans, 769 Washington Ave, nr. St. Johns Pl., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 917-349-8922