Brew: meeting place with a difference
When the Island Restaurant Group opened Brew on Front Street in mid-November, plans for a soft opening went pleasantly awry.
Instead of a handful of customers, people streamed in looking to grab a drink or a bite to eat while they did their Christmas shopping.
“We had a really good start,” IRG executive chef Derek Myers said. “Then people were coming in saying they wanted to have their Christmas party here.”
The shop has a Starbucks-like concept going on with power outlets at every table. Patrons can power up their laptops while they refuel themselves with a sandwich, nitro coffee, beer or wine on tap. There’s no rush to get patrons out the door, so it’s a good place for a casual meeting with clients.
“The biggest comment I heard when we opened was Bermuda needed a place like this,” Mr Myers said. “And I still hear people say ‘oh wow, when did you open?’”
IRG president Philip Barnett said the name Brew denotes freshness, but is also meant to be a play on the Bermudian vernacular for “good friend”.
“It is a central place for locals to hang out and meet, and is a destination for tourists to feel a part of the action and community,” he said. “It is a totally fresh and innovative concept, and new for Bermuda.”
Brew is the latest addition to the IRG line-up which also includes the Hog Penny Pub and Restaurant, Pickled Onion, Barracuda Grill, Frog and Onion Pub, and a catering arm. It replaces their Victoria Street Java Jive coffee shop which they closed last year.
“Java Jive is where the inspiration came from,” Mr Myers said. “We always say Brew is Java Jive on steroids.”
He said in the ten years that Java Jive was open, people became more health conscious. In response, Brew offers gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
“The demand for takeout, grab and go has also increased with people wanting to get their stuff and get back to their jobs,” Mr Myers said.
So Brew has streamlined that process, and even made sandwiches available in the evenings, if people want to buy something to take home for dinner.
But there is also lots of seating for those who want to hang out.
They’ve also jumped on the green bandwagon, offering paper straws, and biodegradable corn or bamboo packaging.
“We’ve gone all glass for the drinks,” Mr Myers said.
He said when the eco-friendly movement started hitting restaurants in the last few years, some restaurants were reluctant to embrace it, because of price.
“Plastic straws and paper straws were not the same in price,” he said. “But now the price has gone down as there are a lot more people making them.”
Mr Myers believed there were a couple of things that made Brew stand out from the crowd.
“I think the staff at Brew are amazing, first and foremost,” he said. “The look of the place is not Bermuda. It looks like you are somewhere else. We have a lounge.”
He said their nitrogen pumped beer and wine also made them unique on the island.
“We are making our own nitrogen,” he said. “We have a product that forces the beer and wine through it. You get a clear crisp product with less foam.”
Mr Myers said they didn’t yet know how Government’s new sugar tax would impact their business.
“We are waiting to see,” he said. “We will probably have to raise the price of some things — but that will be decided when we hear about the price of everything. We will have to do what we will have to do, like everyone else.”
Brew is open Monday to Wednesday from 7am to 7pm. Hours vary from Thursday to Sunday.
“On Thursdays we are open a little later,” Mr Myers said. “We have set closing times, but if people are here we keep it open. We have been open until 9pm and 10pm on Saturdays. On Sundays we open at 8am. We are trying to be open as much as we can for everyone. We want to keep people here.”
• For more information, see BrewBermuda on Facebook, or call 542-2739
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