899 - 917 Bergen Street: Soon to be Food Court and Beer Garden Smorgasborg
  • Wow, that sounds like a long line. I'm happy to hear that it sounds like a successful opening.

    I would like to try the Asia Dog hotdogs.

    I am so curious about the Ramen Burger....so, is that really a burger where the bun is made of noodles? And is it good?
  • Photo of line from twitter:
    image
  • @davina yes, it's a bun made of ramen noodles. It's ok. The burger itself is great. I'm interested to try their burger ramen noodle bowl. The Ramen Burger sandwich itself was actually what I thought it would be, which was disappointing since the idea of ramen noodles clumped into a bun and grilled sounds like it could be a bit rubbery. I was hoping I would be surprised by their ability to turn it into a bread-like bun. On the other hand, they do these ramen fries which are awesome. They should consider making the bun out of that stuff which seems to be the same ramen noodles, but battered and deep fried.

    Get the Asia Dogs corn dog. Amazing.
  • I went for lunch around 1:30 today and it was about half full - it was the perfect fullness, actually. Lines of 3 or 4 people and the tables were easily available without a fight, but the whole place still felt bustling. Can't really speak to the food as I tried to order "healthy." Obviously wasn't the right thing to do there. The salads are not worth it. Everything else looked amazing though. 
  • What are the sweets options there? I just saw blue marble icecream and a ramen churro.  Ice cream is nice, but prefer other desserts.
  • The scene on Thursday night, as per the Berg'n facebook feed

    image

  • Went to Berg'n for lunch today.  Every other person had a child in tow, and there was a typed sign on the door asking parents to control their children, and not keep them there past 9PM.  (It refers to it as a 'line in the sand.')  

    Two kvells:
    1.  Beautiful open space.  So much light, could stay in there all day.
    2.  Everyone was super friendly.

    Two kvetches:

    1.  The ramen burger was tasty, but definitely felt like the gimmick was taking away from actual quality.  Ramen noodles are specially engineered to be most delicious sitting in broth, getting coated in goodness while staying firm.  Glommed together into a a bun feels like a waste.  There was a little browning on the edges, but not enough to elevate past being a glob of unseasoned noodle.  I like @Rogers_Sterling's idea.

    2.  Cheapest beer is $6.  Lots of neighbors, students, and artists are going to be put off by this.  There's plenty of taps there, why not throw PBR or Narragansett on one of them?  $4 would make a difference, I for one could come there on my schoolteacher salary regularly.  Which would be good for my soul.


  • It's like that Portlandia episode "Brunch Village"...except it's real life. :D 

    clayfilms said:

    whynot_31 said:

    Photo of line from twitter:
    image



    whynot_31 said:





  • Stopped by today when I forced myself to get up off the couch. 37 weeks pregnant makes you tired.

    Saturday at 2pm the place was 3/4 full with plenty of seats. Mostly couples with kids and couples without kids. Food was fine - but $10 for a just-ok veggie burger is a bit much -- and the beer prices were way too much. We spent $36 on a burger, a slice of pizza, 2 seltzers, and 2 beers. Not terrible, but nothing that makes me want to run back. The space was attractive though.

    I agree that having 1 or 2 beers in the $4 or $5 range would make a difference. Also, many food options were only available at dinner which seemed odd. I'm sure it will do well, I'm just not sure I'm their audience.
  • Thanks for info re: Ramen Burger. Think I'll go for the Asia dogs instead.

    Bummed out about the beer prices. I had expected them to be lower.
  • At peak times on most non-winter weekends those racks will be several dozen short of what's needed.


    Yeah, definitely going to need more bike parking.

    image
  • As a result of being on the busy Bergen bike lane, it will be a good spot for bikers to stop by on their route.

    However, most seem to be taking the train or walking.
  • valet parking for bikes would be a recommendation.  food coop does it on weekends. how cool would that be?
  • The entire first floor of adjacent 1000 Dean is available.
  • Can the 1000 Dean workers walk through the building to Berg'n?  Or do they have to go all the way around the block?
  • The buildings connect via a hallway.
  • Went there today at 4pm-ish. The place was full of people. We had the Asia Dog; it was ok. We were sitting outside (too packed and loud for the little ones inside). It was a bit surprising to see that they had bouncers. I was also surprised that it was so many people there at that time.The place is quite sleek and nice inside though. Outside could need some...Idk...green plants or something. It felt a bit like a lot of effort went in to decorate the indoors but not as much for the outdoors.
  • tsarina said:

    valet parking for bikes would be a recommendation.  food coop does it on weekends. how cool would that be?



    LOL...

  • Bouncers?  That would give me an offputting feeling.  I'm wondering if it has something to do with it being the West Indian parade weekend.  A number of places either shut down or beef up security to deal with anyone unruly, or keep out crowds that come looking for bathrooms.  

    Hopefully they do away with them after this weekend.
  • I think the bouncers had more to do with enforcing g the capacity limits of the joint. When I went (admittedly, early on Friday eve b/c I was one of those peeps with a baby) I had a nice conversation with the bouncer who was mainly opening the door and making people feel welcome. Of course, his role could change as it gets later...
  • The bouncers definitely came across as helpful and friendly to me, too.

    I would also like to add that I didn't see any black guests there.
  • If you look at my photo above, I don't see any black folks in line to get in.   So far, Berg'n is meeting the means and preferences of some more than others. 
  • As I was leaving in Friday, I did see a small group of black guys and gals go in and enjoy the place. But, yes: it seems to be attracting and catering to a predominately white crowd, with a sprinkling of moneyed people of color. I hope that changes and it becomes more reflective of the neighborhood.
  • Because I view it as a destination, I would be surprised if it consistently reached the level of integration found in the area's sit down restaurants.

    ...by my estimation, they are about 85% "non-black".
  • whynot_31 said:

    Because I view it as a destination, I would be surprised if it consistently reached the level of integration found in the area's sit down restaurants.


    ...by my estimation, they are about 85% "non-black".



    Agreed 100%. 
  • I talked to a few people who went this weekend. I heard it's well run. However, I heard the food is pricey and forgettable. Also, the beers are mostly around $8 and drinks are comparable to pricier places in Manhattan. I think once the newness wears off this place is going to struggle. 
  • Pricey and forgettable....exactly. I don't see myself come back for another $5 hot dog. It was fun to see it and everything, but there are so many better (and more diverse) options in this area.
  • If this place struggles, I'll eat a hat.  I understand the complaints, but once 1000 Dean really gets moving and as all of the (pricey) housing nearby is finished and people move in, this place will do just fine. Most of us who live here now aren't really the final target audience. 

    Eat a hat, I say! 
  • I agree, this place is poised to do fine.    It doesn't need a loyal customer base.   It can thrive as a destination, and this neighborhood is poised to produce lots of customers who rotate thru both it and the neighborhood:

  • It will have a loyal customer base too, I'm sure. At the very least, the people who will work in 1000 Dean will keep it busy at lunch and possibly through to early dinner hours as well. 

    (For what it's worth, Bark charges up to $7 for hot dogs and is always busy.)
  • Yeah this place will struggle just like Franklin Park is struggling.
  • I take it there's no happy hour at Berg'n.

    F $8 beers.
  • Some of the draft beers are $8.  Other drafts are $6.  There are $5 Budweisers. 

    I don't see any mention of happy hour, no. 
  • I've now been to Bergn 3 times since opening night.  I really like it, but I actually don't think success is a guarantee for them.  My friends at different points had some critical observations, that are probably in no way the fault of Bergn itself.

    It suffers a little from the rules set on it for being in prospect/crown heights.  The outdoor area closes down early even though it isn't really a noise threat to the nearest neighbors at all.  Last call inside is (I believe 1:30), which means this isn't going to be that last spot you hit when you come home from a night in williamsburg.  And frankly the late night scene there is a little subdued.  Even if it was 70 people in there, all spread out it kind of looked a little sleepy.   Our group commented on all the possibilities if they transitioned to live music or more of dancing atmosphere.  My guess is, they had to promise they wouldn't do that in order to get board approval. 

    I think a lot of people might say all they want in a iconic local bar is tables to mingle and chat with friends and that's what Bergn delivers.  I actually agree with that in theory.  But if Bergns success relies on their ability to fill those 400 seats a few nights a week, I'd be a bit worried for them.   I think they will be topping out at less then half capacity as soon as everyones tried it once. 
    This is  not to diss, just to add another perspective.  I love having a place like this in the hood and I wish them well. I just wish it was more.  Once they stop serving food at 10pm, and the yard closes down soon after, the place becomes a bit of a noisier (more sterile) version of a typical bar.   Prove me wrong Berg'n!
  • When 3rd Ward and Berg'n went before the CB8 SLA Committee, 3rd Ward seemed as if it would cater to a crowd that was younger and "stayed up later" than Bergn's.

    Needless to say, 3rd Ward didn't happen.

    If (in two years) Bergn finds it needs to stay open later to make "enough" $, I imagine it will request a modification to its lic.
  • Threshold for success is likely super low, figuring that draft beer goes for 3-4x cost, and assuming the food vendors are self-sufficient with their own economics.   Imagine they hit 50% capacity as the best they do...  the crowd on an average day peaks at 200 for a couple of hours, and say there's a couple of hours either side of that at 100.  So my average day is equivalent to having 200 heads in my bar for 4 hours.  If my average customer drinks one beer every 30 minutes, then i still sell 1600 pints in my average day.  I'm clearing $6 on every drink.  Gross margin is 10k a day, but lets discount 3k of that for rent, staff, licensing & utility costs... remembering that bar tenders work mainly for tips, the food booths are taking care of their own numbers, and rent very likely a bargain, since i'm part of a mutually-beneficial partnership with the office building out back. 

    I reckon the business clears well north of two million a year, at a disappointing 50% capacity.

  • For those of you wondering why it took this beer hall so long to open, I give you this store from a similar venture in The Bronx: http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5329-opening-beer-hall-bronx-lessons-trial-error-wong

    Berg'n faced the same struggles, but wasn't chosen to be the subject of the article....
  • @whynot_31 have you heard anything about the Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg's plans at 1000 Dean? NY Times reports that they signed the lease on Tuesday.

    Referring to 1000 Dean, they said "On Tuesday, the company signed a short-term lease for the vacant ground floor to be the winter home of Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea."

  • I had known that was the original plan for the space, which was then scraped when they secured 3rd Ward.

    And, then speculated on April 25th that they would revert to the original plan after 3rd Ward's collapse:

    "Today, I got to wander around the building a little. Unlike the floors above, the first floor of the building is a giant, unpartitioned space. I fear that they will be unable to secure a large tenant, and that it will simply become the winter home of the Brooklyn Flea."


    I was making a very safe bet.
  • Seems the bloom has worn off a bit. I walked by last night close to 11pm expecting a crowd because of the Giants playing in the Thursday night football game. The back room with the projection TV was dark and empty and the courtyard was closed. The main dining area/bar had about 20 people in it, which in a space that size made it look pretty empty.

    Was this just an aberation? Or have the drinking crowds ceeded this space to the parents with small kids group? They were in there pretty strong on Sunday afternoon.
  • I have seen the same, and suspect that is part of why they decided to stop looking for a tenant with more cash than the Flea.

    While the flea won't pay much in rent, its customers will eat and drink at the adjacent family friendly food court.

    Oh, sorry, "beer hall for young singles".
  • I wonder what happens when the people you thought would show up to your establishment turn out to be totally different than the ones you thought would show up?
  • I can't say that I'm shocked that people aren't still flocking to a place where they have one option if they want to pay less than $7 for a draft beer. I believe the $7 draft is an aggressive frontier for Crown Heights.
  • I agree -- I think their beers are pricey for CH. Plus, they are kind of far from Franklin, where the young people roam between happy hours at Crown Inn, Barboncino, Cent'anni, and Franklin Park, starting early, eating, then heading towards the 11pm happy hours. If they want the young people, they need to offer a few different $5 drafts. Maybe even a $4 all-day special.
  • I was there Wednesday night around dinnertime and the place was pretty packed. I was actually somewhat surprised that it was as busy as it was considering it was the middle of the week. Maybe it clears out later in the evening. Agreed on their prices though. If I'm gonna spend that much on beer, I'd prefer to go to Covenhoven where the selection is more interesting and the mood more to my liking. I think Berg'n has finally started a happy hour, at least, so maybe that will help a bit. Still, $6 for a California pilsner at happy hour hardly seems like a deal.
  • aforementioned prices:

    image

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