Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sandwich Spot Arbitrage Play Becomes a Sandwich Spot: 64 6th Avenue

If Brownstoner can keep you up to date with the endless foodie minutiae goings-on in Brooklyn, from time to time why can't we??  Ever since falling in love with some amazing paninis out of a simple hole-in-the-wall in Florence, Italy back in 2011, we'd been scheming on an affordable little commercial space to try a sandwich spot in Brooklyn.  Since we know nothing about the food biz proper, we wanted to sign a lease that at least had some arbitrage to fall back on if the sandwich biz went south.  That year we checked out the space on Franklin Avenue for $1,500/month that later became Little Zelda.  Ultimately, it was an exercise in woulda/coulda/didn't; but suffice to say that even space that small is worth well over $1,500/month these days on the beloved Franklin Avenue hub of Crown Heights.

But then this year things got even more interesting when we saw the tragically-out-of-place Cream Puff Cafe closed their doors in an even more amazing location, on 6th Avenue at the crossroads of Prospect Heights and Park Slope, around the corner from the Barclays arena.  They were balking on a lease as low as $1,600/month, which seemed like another no-brainer to us, since you can barely pick up space that size on Washington Avenue in "Crown Heights" for under $3,000/month, let alone 6th Avenue in Prospect Heights proper.  We put out the sandwich spot bat signal, even getting the Scharf & Zoyer folks in on the action, but ultimately we were too slow on the trigger and a lease was signed for a still-paltry $2,000/month.  Thus the "Bergen Dean Sandwich Shop" was born.  We went yesterday to try the wares.  And - take it from us - the $9 (before taxes) sandwich is alive & well in Brooklyn!

The build out hits all the hipster high notes.  Simple composite stone counters, dark wood floors, subway tile.  Two red light fixtures reminiscent of an Arby's from the 1990's.  Nothing tricky to execute.  The old-timey animal wall paper adds a bit to the motif...

The sandwich?  We went pulled pork with onions, beets, and jalapeno.  [Correction:  'twas the short rib!]  Which in fact was one of the exact chef creations one of our sandwich spot co-conspirators had cooked up at the house to rave reviews.  It's simple, not too flavorful, but totally nourishing.  A little toasting of the bread would definitely take it to the next level.


Yes, as picky as we are in Brooklyn, New Yorkers as a whole are actually quite easy to please if you give them something simple they'd been missing.  All it takes is a guy from a humble place like St. Louis to finally bring a decent to cheeseburger to New York, and all of a sudden you'd think Shake Shack had completely reinvented the concept.  Is Shake Shack really God's gift to cheeseburgers?  No, it's just the first half-way serviceable one that self-important New Yorkers had put in their mouths before.  This place "Bergen Dean" may not wow you, but it certainly gets the job done.  And for that, they'll be applauded.  It's not like they'll give Brooklyn Larder a run for their money or anything, but with a smaller, simpler operation - they may not have to.

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