Branded Saloon to Open for Memorial Day Weekend

Branded Saloon, the new Prospect Heights country-and-western bar by the owner of Beast, Deb Bicknese, is gearing up for a Thursday, May 27, opening -- just in time for an Americana-packed Memorial Day Weekend. Construction was well under way last month, and now the final touches are being put on the Vanderbilt Avenue space.

"We're getting a player piano," says co-owner Gerard Kouwenhoven, pointing out the spot in the front room where the contraption, equipped with hundreds of old saloon tunes, will live. A steer skull, swinging doors, and a wagon-wheel chandelier add to the Old West feel, while a couple of distressed-wood tables from the set of The Sopranos reinforce the theatricality that Kouwenhoven, a multimedia artist, is bringing to the venture.

Bicknese, who is still busy designing the menu, says to expect classic bar snacks, like burgers, wings, and hush puppies, but also specialty items like housemade jerky, pickled eggs, and garlic-and-herb fries. The team invested in a smoker so that it could make its own charcuterie.

"It's chuck wagon-style, not Southwestern," she specifies. "I'm not going to compete with myself [at Beast], so no brunch, no focus on wine. The focus will be beer. We're going to keep the theme local [and American]."

Kouwenhoven says they will host a weekly "Cocktail Hour," a live talk show that will act as a platform for local artists' projects (come for the art, stay for the free shots). A movie screen will allow for film showings. The first "Cocktail Hour" will take place this Saturday, May 29. The theme: Fleet Week. Giddy up. Branded Saloon 603 Vanderbilt Avenue 718-484-8704

Have a restaurant tip or other food-related news? Send it to fork@villagevoice.com.


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