WILLIAMSBURG — After darting all over New York — and Moscow — with a mobile food truck, “neighborhood guy” David Shapiro felt ready to set down real roots in Williamsburg. He didn’t realize he’d soon be creating a whole “island” of diversions steps from the roaring BQE.
“You’ll be walking down Meeker Avenue, feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere, and then all of the sudden you’ll bump into this oasis-like spot with a plaza and a crazy awning structure popping out, ” boasted Shapiro in the patio of his soon-to-open bar.. “Plus we’re adding 18 bike racks…we want to be a focal point of the neighborhood.”
This May, Shapiro is opening Kingbird, a renovated bar with a carefully designed patio and “the best jerk chicken you’ve ever tasted,” in the former home of Loreley Biergarten. And just outside of the business he’s partnered with the city’s Department of Transportation to open a public plaza right by the BQE, plus bike parking spots on Frost Street.
“The idea was to make public space in an area clearly not used,” said Shapiro of the triangular plaza, which the Williamsburg Community Board 1 approved this week. “We’l probably have a granite block garden, and potentially chairs.”
The plaza and bike parking are not meant to serve solely clients of his business, Shapiro said, but they’ll certainly help foster a vibe he and his partner Etan Fraiman look to create.
“My partner and I grew up in Rockaway, our dads go on walks together…we’re neighborhood guys,” said Shapiro, 27, who’s lived in Williamsburg off-and-on the past four years. “We’re a bar that takes food seriously…we’ll have 20 beers on tap, four wines on tap, and we’ll make our own sodas that’ll be on tap.”
Meanwhile the cuisine will be a “creative twist on New York comfort food,” and the seating areas will offer “mini worlds” from indoor booths to outdoor porch gliders, he said. Rather than Loreley’s previous brick walls and courtyard entrance, Kingbird will have fresh wood and an entrance through the bar to “direct the flow” of customers.
"It's not a big open space," he said of the outdoor patio compared to Loreley's previous set-up. "It has cozy nooks and crannies."
For an inviting ambience Shapiro and Fraiman (who helped open Village Pourhouse and other popular Manhattan establishments) chose each architectural detail, including a rainbow wooden wall from a former sewing factory and an adjustable awning held by newly built beams.
And a small DJ booth would play blues, funk and soul, Shapiro said of the bar's back corner.
“We’re not serious guys…a lot of bars in the city take themselves so seriously,” Shapiro said. “We wanted to make our place playful.”
Kingbird will be open 4 p.m. — 4 a.m. weekdays and 12 p.m. — 4 a.m. weekends.