There's finally a sign in the window, a cool assemblage of soldered copper pipes forming the word: . Many residents might not have known this bar at the beginnings of North Broadway has been here since 2002; and if they did, they might not have known its name. Until now.
The management has of late been trying to up the dark lounge's low profile and win some more customers with a little revamp, some food, and a good sanding – and it appears to be working.
General manager Jeremy McLellan, of Sleepy Hollow, a loyal customer from the beginning and an employee for the last five years, said that though Brute on 9 had survived the test of time, this last summer was “rough.” Business was in a slump and “we were getting very frustrated.”
They realized they were having something of an identity crisis, trying to be the slick lounge in a small village that might have other desires, so he and owner William Truiano, who lives in Manhattan, decided to trim the operation in some regards and expand it in others. The name, by the way, comes from the owner's nickname, Brute, Italian for 'ugly', though he certainly is not; the bar isn't either.
“We gave it the old college try,” McLellan said, describing how they shut down for about two weeks in November to perform a minor facelift. The idea was to give the place a more rustic look, sanding the high gloss off the table tops. They added acoustic live music nights (Tuesday, for now), a small menu of food made on a panini grill (no open-fire cooking allowed), an arcade game, and that ever-important sign. “Basically we are becoming more of a neighborhood pub than a Manhattan lounge,” McLellan said.
Perhaps it points not just to a sign of the economic times that people want a less fussy place, but a real need for comfort – and comfort food – in these high-stress times. A similar progression happened in the transformation from Main Street's to .
Still, they won't be taking their new neighborhood pub approach too far past their own more refined niche. Though the management caved and installed a flat screen TV they had previously resisted, you won't often find sports on it (unless they get requests) but rather an old black and white movie. The signature cocktails (which change) can include items like the $12 “pear-ly legal” with pear nectar and bourbon, “always very high-end booze.”
The beers on tap, three in number, are $7 a pint, and can often hail from New York state breweries like Ommegang and Six Point. The food includes various dressed or naked hot dogs starting at $3 and “not dogs” dishes like unique salads, paninis, and dessert. Brute isn't out to compete with area restaurants; instead it aims to offer a little something to people who might otherwise leave, or – like they used to do – order in when they're hungry. The food is served late; the kitchen closes at 1 a.m. weeknights and 3 or 4 a.m. on weekends.
Business, said McLellan, has increased noticeably. And for those who might have tried to come in the past and found the door locked, the hours are now also more streamlined. From Tuesday through Saturday, Brute opens at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, they open at 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday they will stay open until 4 a.m. On weeknights and Sunday night, they'll close around 1 to 2 a.m. on average, “unless people are here; then we'll stay open later,” McLellan said. Cheers to that.
Brute on 9, 17 N. Broadway, 914.703.6022, MC & Visa accepted. Website to come and until then there's Facebook.