Left Hand Path is a new bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn that’s gotten a lot of buzz lately for the personal USB ports the owners had built into the seats.
And while those outlets are certainly useful for when your phone is running out of juice, there are plenty of other interesting things about this just-opened bar.
Owner Travis Boettcher is a former Facebook and Tumblr engineer who decided to open the bar in pursuit of a longtime dream. He teamed up with veteran bartender Sean Knudeson to bring Left Hand Path into reality.
The choice to leave tech for the service industry is certainly an interesting one, but Boettcher says his startup background has proven to be useful in the new venture.
“There are a lot of skills that have a surprising amount of crossover. Just in terms of managing a project with several moving parts, I learned a lot about those high-level skills from working in an organisation with several thousand people. You get exposed to those things,” he said to Business Insider. “But other than that, tech is not a very social industry — the social aspect is very different. Having my job going from staring at a computer screen to actively socializing with people has been a different dynamic.”
The bar has a speakeasy feel, with leather booths, fixed bar stools, and lots of antique details.
Left Hand Path opened on Wyckoff Avenue just three weeks ago, and it still looks pretty nondescript from the outside. The bar's name is a reference to the occult, but Boettcher said they picked it after trying to come up with the most absurd name possible.
'It's really strange that people have latched on to that as the single biggest thing in the bar,' Boettcher said. 'I just put it in there because I always forget to charge my phone, and it seemed convenient.'
Boettcher and Knudeson met when Boettcher (right) was a regular at The Narrows, another Bushwick bar where Knudeson (left) bartended. Knudeson has also tended the bar at The Richardson and DBA.
They enlisted the help of designer Brady Dollarhide to combine their many ideas into one coherent aesthetic. The big piece behind the bar is actually a spruce tree from Washington State. Boettcher is originally from Santa Cruz, Calif., and he wanted to incorporate some elements from the West Coast into the bar.
Boettcher worked on Facebook's site reliability and platform teams in Palo Alto until 2010, when he moved to Brooklyn and started working for Tumblr. That tech and operational background has given him a whole new way of approaching problems. At Left Hand Path, he's working on a new inventory system that uses RFID labels to more efficiently keep track of bottles. 'The bar industry is a very old industry, so I think there's really an ingrained way of doing things. I think having a new perspective on that is helpful,' he said.
They got this cash register from Faerman's, a famed Lower East Side repair shop that has been in operation since the turn of the century. This particular cash register dates back to the 1950s.
According to Boettcher and Knudeson, the shape of the building itself was inspired by IHOPs from the 1950s, when the pancake chain built all of their restaurants as A-frames.
'I've always wanted to open some sort of service establishment,' Boettcher said. 'I used to do a lot of cookouts and BBQs at my house, and I've always enjoyed the hosting, and the cooking, and the making people happy part of things.'
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