WILLIAMSBURG — The concept behind the new location of Randolph Beer at Williamsburg’s 25 Kent Avenue sounds like an adult playground. Patrons will be able to select beverages from a self-serve beer wall and throw down on one of the spot’s large-format gaming courts with a beautiful view of the waterfront.
The new location of Randolph Beer is slated to open sometime in the fall of 2020, the third in the mini-chain that started with high school friends opening a cocktail bar over a decade ago.
“You know how every group of high school friends – or a lot of them – talk about how they’re going to buy a bar someday?” Dave Plate, Randolph Beer’s CEO told us. “Well, my friends and I actually did it.”
That bar was in Nolita and named “The Randolph” after Plate and his friends’ New Jersey hometown. That was around the time of what Plate calls the classic cocktail renaissance age, “it was cooler to say, ‘no, we don’t have beer.’”
Still, they had enough patrons asking for beer. Plate’s managing partner and COO, Kyle Kensrue, is a certified cicerone, or beer expert, so they opened a second spot down the block catering to beer-lovers in 2011 – the original Randolph Beer, which is still alive and kicking at its 343 Broome Street home, while the cocktail bar has since closed.
Soon, craft beer boomed in the city. And the company opened their South Williamsburg location of Randolph Beer in 2013, that differed from the first one by offering classic gaming options like foosball and air hockey. In 2017 they opened in DUMBO, taking things even further with a full-scale, seven-barrel brewing system. They’ve also retroactively built a new, much smaller brewery, at the South Williamsburg location, where they plan to work on more experimental, small-batch beer creations.
At 25 Kent, the new brewery will be “hop-focused” Plate stressed, not “IPA-focused.” Customers will be able to choose from 18 different beers, 12 of which will be brewed in-house, and the other six of which will come from a rotating cast of select local breweries such as Other Half Brewing Company and Evil Twin Brewing. This will also be their first brewing location with a canning facility, so customers can pick up cans to bring home.
While craft beer is the company’s lifeblood, they’ve worked hard to give people more than just another craft beer bar with food.
“At this point, we’re more of an experience than we really are any one thing,” Plate said. “We’re not opening any more restaurants that are just restaurants, or just beer halls. That’s just not what the consumer wants today.”
Food is another area where Randolph Beer aims to distinguish itself. The other partners, Randolph Beer’s Executive Chef Masterful Davis and Quality Control Officer Obadiah Lack, have been looking for ways to incorporate plant-based and sustainable options that will still scratch customers’ itch for hearty, beer-friendly food. The team works on classic (read: greasy) bar-food items and invents something a bit lighter and more vegetable-focused, like pulled BBQ jackfruit sliders in lieu of pork. However, classic fare like burgers and chicken wings are still available.
Customers will be able to play in one of the space’s large gaming courts. They haven’t firmed up the plans yet, so Plate won’t say exactly what kind of game the courts will cater to, but he hinted it’s like bocce ball, “but weirder.” This will be the first location with such a gaming court, but will also have classic games like foosball and shuffleboard.
In addition to the self-serve beer wall, there will be full bartender service at the downstairs bar, as well as a taproom on the second level where patrons can order directly from one of the brewers, while checking out the brewery itself. The entire space is enveloped in glass, offering unobstructed Manhattan skyline and river views.
It’ll be an elevated space, well worth a trip to get to, but one that Plate says is geared toward cultivating a local clientele.
“You live and die in hospitality based on who comes in on a Tuesday night,” Plate said.