Author: Emma Lodes
As of Aug. 28, students who frequent York Boulevard’s bar scene on Thursday nights have a new party to crash: Block Party. The new craft beer joint is only two doors down from The York and boasts a 3,000 square-foot back patio with a summery beer garden vibe.
Block Party stands out among the restaurants and shops on York Boulevard with its wordless facade. In lieu of a sign, the bar announces its presence with a simple neon image of a foaming beer mug. The storefront opens up into a spotless white anterior room where a massive cooler states “We’re Beer, We’re Here, Get Used To It,” and displays an array of craft beers — 350 in total.
The new beer garden is the brainchild of Jason Eisner, beverage director of Gracias Madre in West Hollywood and Cafe Gratitude.
“My vision for Block Party was to create a Brooklyn art party vibe,” Eisner said. “We want to create an experience for people more than anything — for people to be able to hang out with their lifelong friends and people they just met, too.”
Eisner plays the role of chief executive officer and creative director, while Andreas Kraemer and Dustin Shaw are co-owners. Eisner and Kraemer had previously known one another when they lived in Brooklyn, but only met Shaw after their move to Los Angeles. Today, the trio are best friends.
“Opening a bar with my two best friends is significant,” Eisner said. “It’s like creating a dinner party we throw every day. We literally turned away all offers and other influence because we just wanted to do it ourselves.”
Despite the laid-back atmosphere of the bar, the trio takes their craft seriously — they’re certified Cicerones, or highly-trained beer connoisseurs, and they require all staff members to become certified. More than a little beverage knowledge certainly comes in handy when bar goers have questions about the extensive list of unusual beers and wines on the menu, including Belching Beaver’s peanut butter milk stout, Talbott Kali Hart pineapple-and-honeydew chardonnay and “Folly of the Beast,” a sweet vanilla, briar and sour cherry lollypop pinot noir. The Donogginizer Imperial IPA is intensely hoppy and flavorful with a 9.75 percent alcohol content, and the Cali Creamin’ vanilla cream ale feels like summer in a glass. Despite the fancy names and flavors, the drinks are decently priced; most brews on tap are $6–7 for a 12-ounce glass.
“Everyone here has a passion for not only the craft but the joy of what it brings,” Kraemer said. “Jason has an excellent palate, and so do Dustin and I, but the bottom line is if it brings joy, we’re happy about it.”
Block Party may come off as hipster or pretentious at first glance, but the owners attempt to make the space as inclusive as possible. Dogs and babies alike frequent the patio, and the establishment’s “Bring Your Own Grub” policy allows customers to take dinner to the back porch or order in from provided menus.
“We just felt like [York Boulevard] needed a friendly, open, bright space,” Shaw said. “We wanted a really welcoming vibe.”
The neighborhood feeling is best expressed in the patio area, which includes a 42-foot shuffleboard court, eight picnic tables sporting white-and-red striped umbrellas and a giant screen with a Wii projected on it. Lights strung overhead provide an intimate, backyard feel in the evenings.
Overall, they are happy with the bar’s two-week debut and their relationship with the neighborhood, and are excited for the days to come.
“The neighborhood has been so great,” Shaw said. “They’re really supportive and really positive. In pretty much every interaction we’ve had, people have been really excited.”
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