BY JON CRONIN
Last year was the inaugural season of Ridgewood’s outside dining bar Nowadays.
Nowadays features a large open space with grass to lie on, trees, picnic tables, ping pong and decorative lighting strung above and along the fencing. It gives the experience a friendly backyard barbecue feel that the usual pub go’er may not get in the industrial part of Ridgewood.
Nowadays, which opens this season on May 12, is a curious place. It is defined by its comfort and friendly atmosphere, but as Justin Carter, one of the owners of the bar, said, “We try not to define it as any one thing.”
He noted, “A beer garden is a pretty obvious thing to call it,” because it’s outside, has picnic tables and serves beer. Carter noticed that many places in New York are called beer garden without the garden, trees or outdoor space. He and his partners, Eamon Harkin and Mark Connell like the customers to create their own ideas about what Nowadays is.
As opposed to last summer, when they only carried bottled or canned beer, this year they will have 20 beers on tap. “We’re gonna carry all the local guys,” said Carter, pointing out nearby Finback Brewery in Glendale and Queens Brewery, who will be opening up their own beer tasting storefront in Ridgewood in the coming months. They will also have wine on tap and soda on tap from the Brooklyn Soda Works.
Carter said their menu, which features grass-fed beef burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, beer-braised bratwurst and organic beef, all bring pub food to the next level. Their menu also brings a few vegetarian dishes like marinated avocado and quinoa, and veggie hot dogs.
Nowadays seems to have found the perfect home.
“Ridgewood found us,” Carter said recalling how they choose their location. “There are not too many spaces in any of five boroughs like this with the kind of zoning for our kind of business that is close to a residential area and the subway.”
He described their find as a “needle in a haystack,” and added, “We looked at many different neighborhoods.” They needed a large outdoor space, undeveloped land in a manufacturing area and close to residents but not so much so that they will bother them with noise. “We looked for two or three years,” he said.
After their first year they realized they had become a neighborhood-centric bar. “We learned that there was a real desire for what we have,” said Carter. He said they believed there would be a level of demand but also thought it would be a destination for residents from nearby Bushwick, Brooklyn or other parts of Queens. He saw that after the first couple of weeks being open, there were a lot of people from the neighborhood. He said business was also good on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so they expanded from being open five days a week to seven.
Carter and his partner Harkin are DJs by profession and will bring their party event “Mr. Sunday,” which has gained a following over the past few years, to Nowadays. Carter said Harkin recently attended aN engagement party where 75 percent of the people knew each other from the their “Mr. Sunday” parties.
He said it will be family friendly and run during the day from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. They will play everything from jazz to disco on vinyl records.
Their third partner, Connell, also runs Botanica Bar on E. Houston Street in Manhattan, and recently sold his investment in Estella, an award-winning establishment located above Botanica.
Carter said of Connell, “He’s in it to make a nice experience for people and that’s why we’re in it.”
“We’re naturally gregarious people. When it’s your place, it doesn’t feel weird going up to people, ask where you’re from, how is that.” Carter and his partners wanted to have a place where people would feel natural going to each other and start a conversation. “I like to think that is the kind of space we created.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin
56-06 Cooper Avenue
Monday – Thursday 4pm – midnight
Friday 4pm – 2am
Saturday noon – 2am
Sunday 3pm – midnight (TBC)
Accepts all major credit cards