“Just Me With A Meat Slicer”: A Farewell To Beer Table (As We Know It)


This piece was written on 4/25/2013. On 4/27 we visited Beer Table on their last night, where a patron made an impromptu toast to the owners and I drank a beer called Gypsy Tears.

On April 27th, 2013, Beer Table in Park Slope will serve its last beer after five years. The small bar and restaurant was well-known for its incredible beer selection; in addition to a few drafts and casks, the bottled beer menu contained hundreds of options from brewers all over the world, with bottles that cost anywhere from $8 to a select few over $100. This was not the kind of place to chug pitchers of beer; Beer Table was a place to actually drink beer, and to discover new ones. The sign on the door says they need a bigger space – and a bigger kitchen. Justin Philips, one of the owners, says that serving food was always his first priority.

“For the first six months,” he says, “it was just me with a meat slicer.” The food offered wasn’t very elaborate, consisting of pickles, spiced nuts, and charcuterie. After they hired their first chef, though, the food program really began to grow. It wasn’t long before they were serving entire dinners from their tiny kitchen, and those were the nights that Justin felt happiest.

In 2011 they opened Beer Table Pantry in Grand Central Station. The business there has been so good that it is allowing them to grow their business here in Brooklyn. Justin got a good offer on the lease for the original Beer Table space, so he’s turning it over to a new set of hands. According to him the new owners will be keeping the space pretty much the same, and Justin may be running their beer program, so things may not change that much. “But the Beer Table name, that goes with me,” he says. The brand has been a good one.

That’s not to say that the new location will just be a bigger space. Justin is committed to making it more of a restaurant, and he thinks the name “Beer Table” confuses customers; because the word “Beer” comes first, they think of it as a bar and not a restaurant. The new space will have Beer Table as a “component” – Justin thinks that he’ll have a private room within the restaurant, one that you can rent out for parties, and that room will be known as Beer Table. As the name might imply, there will be one big table to gather around, and customers will have access to an extended beer list.

Due to various real estate and zoning issues, the new location will not be opening any time soon. “Speaking conservatively, I want to say we’ll open within a year,” says Justin. Business at Beer Table Pantry is good enough to support that move, and the Beer Table team will continue to do dining events. The plan right now is that once a month they will host a “traveling dinner” at different restaurants around the city. Customers can find out when and where by signing up for their email newsletter on their website.

As for the future space, Justin is unwilling to reveal the name or the location. It won’t be in Park Slope, but he says, “it’s a quick walk away.” He’ll design the space himself, the way he did for the current location. And if the space he’s currently looking at, which he is very happy with, doesn’t work out, he’ll keep looking around Brooklyn for another one. “We passed the five year milestone,” he says proudly. “It’s time to grow.”

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