By Liana Grey
Beer Authority, an 80-tap brewery with a 3,000 s/f roof deck, is slated to open next month above a porn shop on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 40th Street, in a 6,000 s/f retail space formerly leased by a Lucille Roberts fitness center.
In a deal handled by broker Ed Reilly of Reilly Real Estate, the restaurant’s founders, including Joseph Donagher, the owner of Rattle ‘N’ Hum Bar on 33rd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, will be paying $324,000 for the space after a year’s free rent.
The establishment, located in a two-story building at 601 Eighth Avenue owned by a limited liability company, is the third of its kind to crop up in the gritty blocks around the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Last year, the local chain Heartland Brewery opened its seventh Manhattan restaurant on the ground floor of the bus terminal, which has a main entrance on Eighth Avenue.
“Residents, office workers, and Port Authority commuters will have what their neighborhood sorely needs: its very own Heartland, complete with award winning beers,” the company announced when the deal closed.
The brewery has some competition from Frames, a recently revamped bowling alley inside the terminal offering draft beers and exotic cocktails.
But Frames sets itself apart from Heartland, which serves burgers and other informal American entrees, with a dinner menu featuring homemade blue crab ravioli and other gourmet, organic items. When it opens, Beer Authority will go the route of Heartland, offering gastro pub fare along with cask ales and designer cocktails.
Incomes in Midtown West vary drastically (the average is $42,000, with about 18% of residents living below the poverty line and five percent earning more than $200,000).
A large portion of foot traffic on Eighth Avenue is generated by office workers and commuters in a hurry, an attribute that makes the area one where affordable to mid-range retail will most likely thrive, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman retail chairman, Faith Consolo, who noted in an interview earlier this year that the area had “gotten a bad rap.”
She said, “The area around the Port Authority has gotten so much better. People will come in there to dine if there is something good — it doesn’t necessarily need to be a three star restaurant.”
In all their various forms, “beer gardens are popular all over the world now,” said Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president and principal at Newmark Knight Frank. An establishment operated by the Standard Hotel, in an outdoor space beneath the High Line in Chelsea, has been a success, he said.
In less established neighborhoods outside Manhattan, beer gardens have paved the way for gentrification.
Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, the oldest of its kind in the five boroughs, having opened over a century ago on 24th Avenue in Astoria, has drawn crowds of young professionals to the neighborhood in recent years.
When Trinkhalle Restaurant, a beer garden and restaurant serving modern Austrian cuisine, opened in a 125,000 s/f art gallery in an abandoned factory in Jersey City, near the luxury condo development Canco Lofts, it gave the long-dilapidated Journal Square neighborhood a boost.
REW was unable to contact Ed Reilly of Reilly Real Estate for comment by press time.