Greenpoint Gazette

How to Build a Bar in Only Eight Weeks

BY Jesse Sposato

The Story of Lady Jay’s

Lady Jay’s, a rock and roll-slash-country bar on Grand Street in Williamsburg, has only been open two weeks, but they already have their vibe down. “It’s just a good bar with good music [and] a good crowd. Definitely after seeing the [people] that come in here, I really like the crowd,” said bartender Dana Cory. The owners behind Lady Jay’s aren’t going for anything too fancy. In fact, as these stories often go, this bar came together by chance.

A few months ago, two friends, Sam Mason and Troy Arcand, were having brunch at an establishment down the street from what is now Lady Jay’s, and conveniently in the same neighborhood as the apartment they share, when a third friend, Gabriel Check, pointed out the vacant space. Mason and Arcand had casually checked the space out, but with a push from Check, they all decided to take a second look. Next, they recruited long-time friend Myles Atherton, and they had their fourth.

“That’s the thing, when we opened this bar, we weren’t four guys that set out and were like, Let’s open a bar,” Arcand said. Plans continued to unfold organically before the four men without much effort or preparation. Faster than most people can conceive of opening a new establishment of any kind, the four friends already had their liquor license on the way.

The whole thing came together in only eight weeks. Their original plan was to keep the wooden bar that was already there, but it started to fall apart while they were doing construction and they had to let it go and start fresh. In addition to tearing the bar up, they tore the kitchen out and then filled in the blanks from there. For the walls, check resurrected eighty-year-old beadboard from his storage facility, and he used salvaged wood from a two-hundred-year-old barn in upstate New York for the top of the bar.

They found a Shuffleboard Bowling table on eBay, an old-school jukebox (which they stocked with country, blues, and roots tunes), a vintage mirror on Craigslist, even authentic steer horns from a woman in Texas.

“Every time we got a piece, it just fit someplace in the bar and looked like it belonged,” Arcand said. “The place just kind of evolved on its own.”

And just what kind of place is Lady Jay’s? Atherton explained that they’re going for a classic American watering hole. He said, “Our focus is going to be on American whiskey and tequila. It may not be the best selection but it’s what we like. That’s been kind of our approach to everything. We want [the bar] to be a reflection of us and what we like and hopefully that translates into what everybody else is looking for also.”

Echoing that train of thought, Arcand said, “The four of us, we just wanted to open a bar that we’d want to go to. We didn’t open this for an audience. We opened it for ourselves. We weren’t like . . . ‘Hey, this neighborhood’s thriving, we should open a bar.’”

Head over to Lady Jay’s to enjoy beers on tap like Goose Island and Coney Island Lager, plus Buffalo Trace White Dog, a high-proof aged bourbon similar to Moonshine. And look out for nights planned around their Shuffleboard Bowling table, and an acoustic music BBQ series that will take place in their backyard starting in a couple of weeks. According to Atherton, the focus will be on “simple food, simple music and simple booze.”

“We really feel over the whole cocktail fancy schmancy, you need a password to get in the door kind of thing. We want more of a, you want to hang out with your buddies or your girlfriends or whatever and have a good conversation, have a good time, kind of thing. So it’s really a back to basics kind of bar.”

Lady Jay’s is located at 633 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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