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 he’s 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 documentary’s 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 … let’s just say it was a really shady place. Physically, it’s beautiful. It has to have been a bar for decades and I haven’t changed a thing. The people that were there left and it was new people the next day. Sort of like a Twilight Zone–type thing.
So you’ve given it a test run?
I don’t do test runs. I don’t do openings. But Siberia opened on Halloween — we’re 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 they’re my children. This is a child I love, but it’s a different child.
Does that mean we can expect a rebirth of Siberia, still?
Siberia’s in the near future.
You’ve finally found a space?
No, no, it’s not like that. You never know the way things are going to work out. But it’s 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. It’s like a movie set — everything looks perfect but there’s 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, it’s not going to be about bands.
Why the Manhattans?
If you’re from Brooklyn like I am, if you’re coming to [Manhattan] you say I’m 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 they’re going to be saying I’m going to the Manhattans. Will they be saying they’re going to the city or going to my bar?” The name was born in Brooklyn, and if people feel offended and they don’t like it, they shouldn’t come.
Any other personae non grata?
If you’re barred from any other bars, don’t show up.
So are you going to be selling Manhattans at the Manhattans?
We’re 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 should’ve gotten out. Everybody’s just trying to make money and they have fake bars. This is a real place you can go and enjoy yourself and distract yourself. That’s 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. It’s 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 that’s going to be open is the bar.
Okay, so rents are low in Brooklyn. What about in the Manhattans?
The landlords in Manhattan don’t 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?
It’ll 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, it’s great. These are happy-hour prices!”
The Manhattans, 769 Washington Ave, nr. St. Johns Pl., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 917-349-8922
Earlier: DIVE ALIVE! Siberia’s Tracy Westmoreland Gets Back Into the Bar Game