From FBI to IPA: Former G-Man Opens Craft Beer Bar in the Village
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor, a newly opened Eighth Street bar, has an owner with a unique resume — Don Borelli is a 25-year veteran of the FBI.
Borelli's career is like something out of an action movie. He spent nine months in Pakistan after 9/11 before getting orders to report to Amman, Jordan, where he spent three years overseeing all FBI operations in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
He finished out his FBI career as assistant special agent-in-charge of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the FBI's New York office, overseeing operations like the capture of a man who plotted with al-Qaida to bomb the Long Island Rail Road, he said.
Now, he's running a craft beer bar in Greenwich Village.
"I've always wanted to do something a little fun and entrepreneurial," Borelli said.
He isn't quitting his day job as the chief operations officer at security consulting firm The Soufan Group, a gig he still feels passionately about. But he's excited for the chance to exercise the entrepreneurial spirit he says he inherited from his dad — along with his love of craft beer.
On a recent evening, Borelli was hustling behind the bar, attentively checking in with guests, stopping to sit and chat with friends who dropped in and serving up some of the bar's locally sourced snacks: pretzels from Sigmund's in the East Village, Kings County beef jerky from Brooklyn and Borelli's favorite, turkey and beef meatballs from Meatball Obsession, just a few blocks further along Sixth Avenue.
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is only serving beer and wine, not liquor or cocktails, after Community Board 2 raised concerns about the many bars in the area that already have liquor licenses, records show.
Borelli said he wants to be a good neighbor, so he promised the board that he would not apply for a full liquor license. The board voted to support Borelli's application for a beer and wine license last November.
"We're trying to be respectful," Borelli said.
Since there are already other bars in the neighborhood serving cocktails, Borelli wants Arts and Crafts to be a cozy, comfortable beer joint.
"We want the place to be an extension of your living room," he said.
The place has a homey feel, designed in dark woodsy browns and greens, much of which Borelli said he and his business partner, Robert LaFrance, painted and stained themselves.
"There's a lot of elbow grease and our own sweat equity in this place," he said.
The drink menu, with 24 beers on draft and nearly 40 bottled options, ranges from $5 bottles of Budweiser to an $18 bourbon-infused Goose Island stout. Borelli said he's "an IPA guy," but he doesn't have a favorite.
The location was formerly home to the Growler Station, which sold beer but didn't offer patrons the option to sit and enjoy it in-house. The owners of the Growler Station left Borelli and LaFrance some growlers, though, and Borelli plans to fill them for takeout customers soon.
Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor, 26 W. Eighth St. 646-678-5263. Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.