The North Flatbush BID is excited to welcome Charm Bar to the District! We had a chance to chat with Mckinley Lamarre about Charm Bar’s unique offerings, and the experience of opening a bar in the middle of a pandemic (note: some interview content is paraphrased from phone interview)
NFBID: When did Charm Bar open?
ML: Last Wednesday (11/4). We’ve got outdoor and indoor seating, and are working on getting our outdoor barricade painted.
How has business been so far?
ML: So far it’s been very busy! We’ve had the sign up for months, so people have been walking by for a long time wondering when we’re going to open. There’s been a lot of build up. So far we have been getting a great response from the neighborhood — everyone is really excited to see us open.
NFBID: Tell us a little about the inspiration for the bar, and what you have to offer that’s unique:
ML: Charm Bar is a bar and a restaurant, with 14 signature cocktails. The cuisine is Caribbean-American; American cuisine infused with Carribean spices. I opened Charm Bar with two other partners, and we were very intentional about the design and layout of the space, down to every last design detail.
NFBID: How has the opening process been? Were you slated to open before the pandemic?
ML: Yes, we were hoping to open before the pandemic hit. We’ve got restaurants on either side of us, and when we saw that they were closing down and liquidating their inventory, we figured it was a sign that we shouldn’t open just yet. Starting in July, we were full speed ahead with construction and preparations.
NFBID: What made you want to open a business?
ML: I worked at Agata & Valentino, a gourmet specialty food store for many years, which influenced my interest in food. I had the experience of opening a restaurant, and learned a lot about the ins and outs of opening a business. It inspired me to want to open a business of my own.
NFBID: Why did you choose this location?
ML: We found this location and it seemed like a perfect match because of the proximity to Barclays Center. The neighborhood feels incredibly diverse, and the nearness of Barclays and public transit will bring an influx of different types of people from all over. My hope is that we can eventually close Dean street (through the Open Streets Open Restaurants program) like they’re doing on 5th Avenue. Since there are multiple restaurants on Dean, it would create a fun al fresco dining experience.
NFBID: What are you nervous about in the upcoming months?
ML: I am nervous that numbers start to rise and that we revert back to the conditions that bars and restaurants experienced during lockdown.
NFBID: What are you excited about?
ML: I’m excited about having the opportunity to employ people in the community, particularly those who have been out of work. I love the idea of having a space that can bring the community together. I feel very lucky to have always had support and mentorship along my journey as a business owner, and want to share this with others