Keepin’ it One Hundred at The Bronx Beer Hall
Call them “crazy” (their mother did) or call them visionary. Brothers Anthony and Paul Ramirez, founders and co-owners of The Bronx Beer Hall, had a great idea and little else when they began building their bar inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Born from their production of the 2011 FromTheBronx.com Holiday Pop-up Shop in the Market where they hosted and featured local artists and a beer tasting from a local beer company, the brothers were approached by the Market’s board of directors to make something more permanent. With that urging and their own nascent idea, The Bronx Beer Hall was conceived.
Geared only with their deep sense of Bronx pride, a can-do spirit, and great friends, the Bronx born and raised pair set out to re-purpose the open center of the Market that both respected the history and culture of the Bronx and Arthur Avenue as well as demonstrate all that is positive about the borough. Calling on their friends, they constructed the bar and the table area from the ground up. One friend donated the epoxy flooring, another friend built the bar and tables from wood reclaimed from a barn that came from the Bronck family farm in upstate New York. And yet another friend hung the back bar, mooring it to the ceiling with metal rods. They added a subway-tiled wall topped with two-inch slabs of wood salvaged from the Rockaway Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy to partition the bar from the eating area. Everything about The Bronx Beer Hall is thick and solid providing a sense of permanence that fits in perfectly with their surroundings, the 78-year-old Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
“Our mission is to preserve the culture and history of the Bronx while also instilling pride and confidence in the Bronx for all who live or have lived here,” Anthony tells me. “We wanted to build an open, welcoming space that we would be happy to hang out in after work.”
After a full year of hard labor, The Bronx Beer Hall celebrated its grand opening in February 2013, cramming 400 people inside the historic Market. “It was the two of us and a few staff hired the week before pouring beer, serving. We didn’t even know how to work the register. After a while, we were handing out beers for free. Folks were leaving, saying, "Here’s 30 dollars. I think that’s how much I drank’ It was wild,” Anthony says. But the brothers are clearly quick learners.
Always community driven (the brothers sit on a wide-ranging number of civic boards both local and citywide), they opened their space for fundraisers and events to those who shared their mission and vision. Paul curates the activities including karaoke, trivia, and an all-vinyl residency by Uptown Vinyl Supreme that keeps folks coming to their bar. They partner with the food purveyors inside the market and restaurants on Arthur Avenue to provide a menu to go along with the beer and wine. Everything is done purposefully with the intent to provide a welcoming place for all who come “We’re more than a bar,” says Paul. “Beer halls are inherently communal spaces. We aim to create an environment where you’re always engaged and where you might just meet your new best friend!”
And now this “crazy” idea, something only Anthony and Paul could envision at the time, is celebrating its fifth anniversary, a benchmark for succeeding in the bar and restaurant industry in New York City. So, whether one wants to merely take a respite from a shopping trip or wants to enjoy a lively night of food, music, beer and wine, or enjoy a Sunday brunch in an unorthodox setting, The Bronx Beer Hall inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market is a destination bringing folks together.