Noah Bernamoff is at it again. The owner of Mile End Deli and Black Seed Bagels is getting ready to roll out a third concept at the end of next month. Working with Julian Brizzi of Rucola, food photographer Daniel Krieger, and bar veteran Damon Boelte, Bernamoff is bringing oyster bar Grand Army (336 State Street, Brooklyn) to Boerum Hill.
The team aims to create a neighborhood pub scene in the new space. In addition to a selection of East Coast oysters (all four partners prefer the briny flavor profile found on this side of the continent), the place will serve a small menu of light snacks. Nothing has been set in stone, but the idea is to offer some raw bar items, a few salads, open-faced sandwiches on locally sourced bread (they’re still working on picking a bakery), cheese, charcuterie, and a bread plate with different flavors of high-quality butter and spreadable schmaltzes. “It’s not meant to be a full meal,” says Bernamoff. “We’re looking to do more of a before-dinner thing. And we’ll have a couple of sweet things for after-dinner drinks.”
The main goal, however, is to offer the area reasonably priced drinks and a laid-back place to meet. In terms of adult bevvies, there will be something for everybody. Craft beers will be available, but so will mass-produced options. Well-prepared cocktails will be on the menu, but this won’t be a mixology lair. A good wine selection will be offered, but the place is not supposed to be wine-centric. “We don’t want to be overly specialized,” says Bernamoff. “We want a place where there’s no such thing as ‘This is off limits.’ ”
Taking cues from the oyster portion of the concept, the space will strike a balance between old-school and modern. An antique bar from the 1930s has been expanded to encompass the raw bar. But along with designers Matt Maddy and Nico Arze of American Construction League (they most recently did Russ & Daughters Cafe), the team wants to incorporate masculine and feminine qualities, too. Warm lighting and brass fixtures will soften the heavy wood elements; they’re still working on developing a color palette that contrasts the yin and yang.
The group took possession of the space at the beginning of November, and the project is moving along at lightning speed. But the plans were starting to be laid in the summer of 2014. For years, several business owners in the area had been eyeing the location. No one took it, though, because the former landlord was notoriously unreasonable (or nutty, really). Then the owner of the building that Mile End inhabits bought the building; Bernamoff was given first dibs. He had no idea what to do with the place at the time, but he wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity. He started a conversation with Brizzi, Krieger, and Boelte; together, they developed a concept they thought was suitable for the area. “We wanted to satisfy the demand of what we feel is needed in the neighborhood,” says Bernamoff. “We’ve seen it change. Through discussions, we decided a bar would be a good thing.”