Sage Geyer has been helping develop some of New York’s hippest nightlife spots for over a decade: he was the general manager of operations and events at Williamsburg music venue, Union Pool, a consultant for the opening of Metrograph theater and the director of operations at dance spot, Kinfolk. Which is to say, Geyer has been waiting almost 20 years to open his own space. His solo act, Bar Meridian opened on a quiet street in Prospect Heights this month; not too far from the neighborhood’s other new spots like Oxalis, MeMe’s Diner, LaLou and Maison Yaki.
“I have been operating other peoples’ places for long enough,” says Geyer, who cut his teeth in restaurants in Seattle, namely The Alibi Room, a popular place in the Pike Place Market, back in the 90's. Geyer's partner in Meridian is Asa Johnson, who doesn't work in the industry.
Though spaces like Union Pool and Kinfolk are known for their frenetic energy, Bar Meridian will be a bit more low key: “a modern corner bar” that offers something a bit more elevated than just dive-y highballs. Drinks will include natural wine and beer from local breweries like Other Half and Mikkeller. The Williamsburg spots that Geyer worked at may be known for being a good place for a drunken hookup, but Bar Meridian will be something more mature, where you’d want to go for a first date to actually talk have a conversation. Perhaps even a contender for romantic bars in NYC.
While the menu itself is simple, Geyer’s intention is to create a space that’s approachable and comfortable without dumbing things down. A few food options like a Spanish tortilla with radish and celery ($7), the oddly-named “Day Old Spaghetti” with Parm, olive oil and chili fakes ($10) and bologna sandwich with cheddar, mustard and mayo ($8) were developed in collaboration with consulting chef Millicent Souris (an alum of The Roebling Tea Room). Earlier this year, Souris wrote a piece for Bon Appétit, titled “Why I Gave Up on the New York Food Scene to Work in a Soup Kitchen." Though Souris will continue to work at St. John’s Bread and Life in Bed-Stuy, this is her first major reappearance since penning the personal essay, save for a recent vegan dinner at the beloved cookbook shop and Sicilian café, Archestratus.
“Trends come and go but the spaces they inhabit create the magic. That's a cheesy way of putting it. But people are way more likely to spend time in a beautiful and comfortable space, regardless of what's being served,” says Geyer. Part of creating that feeling is the people. Geyer says he’s placed immense effort in making sure the bartenders will be “friendly, approachable and confident; people who actually represent the neighborhood.” There is no official wine menu with listings of fancy French names you can’t pronounce. Instead wines are listed casually and vaguely with the phrase “Let’s talk about it,” signaling that you have to ask the bartender for more info. The intent is to help foster communication with the bartenders, to help demystify wine lists: it’s not about a wine brand, so much as a good fit for your flavor profiles.
Taking what he learned from working at bars where music was key to setting the overall mood, a restored jukebox is the space’s crown jewel design feature. Geyer, who played in various bands years ago, will look to local DJs to curate the records offered, with music spanning disco, dub and hardcore ‘80s tracks, among other genres.
As far as the name: "meridian" references the bar’s location at the intersection of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights: “I really like the idea of division of spaces and neighborhoods and how neighborhoods collide. How they have pretty significantly different identities but create something nice together.”
Bar Meridian is located at 406 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11238.