Greenwood Heights residents will have a new spot to soak up the summer fun when Sandy Jack’s opens on Fifth Avenue — and the duo behind the saloon are looking to bring more than just a new watering hole to the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Michael Thayer and Kevin Valenza, both teachers in the Department of Education and members of the same pool league, first discussed the idea before the pandemic hit. The co-owners had played pool games in the neighborhood and had gotten familiar with the area.
Thayer, a shared owner of a bar in Carroll Gardens named Camp that closed last year during the pandemic, said that when the space in Greenwood Heights opened up, it presented itself as an opportunity.
“We were familiar with the place that was here before — the customers, clientele, and we love the physical space, the backyard is unbelievable and it is a great neighborhood,” Thayer said. “We’re getting an advantageous opportunity especially just coming out of a pandemic.”
The bar will have a pool table, pinball machine and a jukebox. Aside from Happy Hour occurring every weekday from 5-7 pm, Sandy Jack’s will also play live music on Thursday evenings, movies and sports games.
“We want it to be about the experience — it’s not just a bar — there’s a lot of bars where you go to drink and hang out, but we want this to be something different where there’s always something new going on,” Thayer said.
The outdoor area behind the bar will also serve as an opportunity for activities such as “sip and paints,” garden parties and live performances.
“We want this to basically be like the neighborhood hangout,” Valenza said.
Thayer and Valenza said that from specialty pizza pop-ups to drag performances, they want Sandy Jack’s to be a space and experience that is open to all communities.
“Really it’s a place where whatever line you walk, you’re going to have something to do here,” Thayer said. “Everyone is welcome.”
The bar is named after Thayer and Valenza’s dogs: Sandy, Valenza’s yellow labrador retriever and Jack, Thayer’s mini chihuahua mix.
In keeping with the namesake of the bar, Sandy Jack’s will be dog-friendly, and will even have dog treats behind the counter for any furry visitors.
The bar’s menu will include Brooklyn’s own Table 87 pizza, craft beer and three specialty drinks that are also a reference to Thayer and Valenza’s dogs, with a drink named The Sandy, The Jack, and The Sandy Jack.
Sandy Jack’s — located at 683 Fifth Ave. — is set to open sometime this summer.
Although Thayer and Valenza originally envisioned opening in June, they are still waiting for the approval of their liquor license.
“We’ve been in the system for a while so now it’s just a matter of waiting,” Thayer said. “Once we get our liquor license, we want to be opening our doors the next day.”
Despite the waiting, this time has given Thayer and Valenza the opportunity to continue to “tinker” and plan for their soft and grand openings.
Following their soft opening of a three-hour open bar with family and friends, the co-owners then plan to have a grand opening, for which they have set up a GoFundMe in hopes to incentivize and excite potential customers.
“This is an opportunity for people to make an investment right away,” Thayer said. “We just want to get people in the door and have them feel it’s their bar.”
Potential investors are offered different perks based on the amount of money they donate, such as getting a free drink for $10, a three-hour open bar of wells, drafts and wines for $100, and a free private party for up to ten people for $1,000 donations.
Update (June 10, 2:52 pm): The story has been updated to include the name of the bar Thayer partially owned previously to Sandy Jack’s and to correct when the bar closed.