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Craft Beer and Bourbon Bar Opens on Fredrick Douglass Boulevard

By Gustavo Solis | February 27, 2015 4:50pm

HARLEM — Restaurant row is getting a watering hole.

Mess Hall, a bar that focuses on craft beers and bourbon, is set to open Saturday at 2194 Fredrick Douglass Blvd. The bar will stand out from the restaurants and lounges that have opened up in the last couple of years, co-owner Shanna Sharp said.

“A lot of the new things coming up in the area are really sleek and new,” Sharp said. “We wanted something that is a little bit more cozy and a little bit more comfortable.”

Sharp teamed up with the owners of two local coffee shops — Chipped Cup and Lenox Coffee — to open up the Mess Hall right next to another coffee shop, Double Dutch Espresso. Double Dutch is co-owned by Karen Paul of the Chipped Cup and Aaron Baird of Lenox Coffee.

Sharp, Paul, and Baird have been trying to open the bar for over a year. They approached the Community Board in November 2013 and intended to open up Double Dutch and Mess Hall around the same time.

“It’s a little unreal after all of the work and stress and worry and sleepless nights,” said Paul. “It’s just a different beast, the liquor license adds a different set of hurdles.”

They spent over a year trying to get the liquor license, she added.

While many of the new restaurants in the neighborhood sell booze, there isn’t a go-to neighborhood bar, Sharp said.

“We were still going out of the neighborhood to hangout at a bar and we don’t want to do that,” Sharp added.  “We as locals saw something that we wanted so we found an opportunity to make it happen. I want to walk home, I don’t want to have to take a cab.”

For its grand opening, Mess Hall will have ten American craft beers on tap. They plan to rotate the brews in the future but right now they are focused on showcasing New York’s finest.

They currently have Coney Island, KelSo and Six Points from Brooklyn, and a couple of brews from Upstate like Ithica and Ommegang — who will release a Game of Thrones beer in April.

Happy hour will include discounts on beers and a $5 can and shot special, Sharp said.

Mess Hall will also serve up a diverse selection of bourbons that includes local distilleries like Tuthilltown, said Paul who is pregnant.

“That’s the irony of my life right now,” she said. “I won’t be able to drink when my bar opens.”

The bar is designed to feel life a “warm, rustic lodge retreat,” Sharp said. The walls are painted with earth tones, the bar is made of wood and there are taxidermy animals mounted on the walls, most of which have names.

Leonard the deer is mounted behind the beer taps right above the liquor license. Barbie and Deborah, two stuffed deer, are along the wall opposite of Leonard. Boris the boar is in the back near the darts. The pheasant, which doesn’t have a name yet, is above the edge of the bar near the front.

The bar also has a back patio that they hope to put to use once the snow melts, Paul added.