Nearly four years ago, Knitting Factory alums Joshua Richholt and Shay Vishwadia found the perfect space for a music venue-cum-beer hall in an industrial part of North Brooklyn. This summer, their vision is finally becoming a reality.
“I’m super excited,” Richholt told the Greenpoint Gazette. “We’re in the home stretch.”
Instead of one space, they’ve created two and dubbed them The Wick and The Well. Brooklynites will be able to get their music fix at The Wick, an 8,000-square-foot space that will offer food and drinks along with live performances from bands both big and small. Just next door is The Well, an expansive beer bar and outdoor space with room for over 1,000 people.
“We’re trying to keep it as a blank slate,” Richholt said, referring to The Well. “We called it the “public house” because we didn’t want people to think it’s just a beer garden — the space lends itself to a bunch of different things.”
When this “public house” opens in May, bartenders will offer 60 beers on tap and 150 beers in bottles, mostly from New York breweries. The space is outfitted with a full kitchen that will serve up comfort foods like pulled pork and barbecue chicken dreamed up by the guys who run the Lodge and Urban Rustic Food. The backyard area will also feature a food truck.
Richholt envisions the The Wick as a “cornerstone of music” in the East Williamsburg/Bushwick neighborhood, which seems to be crawling with musicians these days.
“There are so many musicians in this neighborhood and so many artists,” he said. “It has such a great music scene.”
But while there are a few smaller music venues in the neighborhood, Richholt says there’s nothing as large The Wick. It works to their benefit that they’ve set up shop in an industrial area, where they won’t have to deal with noise issues as they would in other areas.
There’s also a gallery inside The Well, which features the work of new street artists every month. The artists, some from far-flung places likes Brazil, Spain and Italy, can repaint the walls and hang up their paintings in the smaller space.
“It’s really become its own community,” Richholt said. “It’s a cool aspect of the space.”
The building itself dates back to 1875. It was a brewery until the 1950s, and was eventually used for warehouse space or “left to rot.” Until 12 years ago, the ground floor was completely abandoned and squatters had moved in the upper levels. Now those floors are occupied by music studios.
Bringing the building up to code has been a long, stressful process, but Riccholt and Vishwadia were up to the challenge. They’re veterans of this line of work after all: Together they have nearly 30 years of experience running music venues. They met while working at the Knitting Factory, but split off over three years ago to get to work on The Wick and The Well.
In that time, they’ve seen many smaller music venues open up in North Brooklyn, as more and more establishments are priced out of Manhattan. It’s only natural they’d all end up in Brooklyn, Riccholt said.
“It’s kind of funny, we’ve been slogging away this whole time so we’ve seen all these other ones come up,” he said.
And this summer The Wick and The Well will finally be among them.
“It was really tough getting past every little hurdle,” Riccholt said. “But now we’re finally getting to the goal.”