Nowadays, many may have written off Williamsburg as a place that has fallen prey to the likes of big banks, pricey hotels, and chains. However, restaurateur Daniel Cipriani, of Bushwick’s Sea Wolf and the newly-opened Gemelli and The Ledge, still has faith in the neighborhood. That’s why his newest venture, the “post-punk dystopia”-themed bar JJ’s Hideaway, will be located in the midst of it all, on bustling Wythe Avenue.
Despite its more luxurious neighbors, Cipriani says JJ’s is aimed more at those with shallower pockets and perhaps a more pronounced sense of humor.
“I think the time has come that Williamsburg sorely needs something like this,” he says. “Every neighborhood needs a home for the misfits, the lost kids, the workers in the neighborhood who can’t afford $16 cocktails. I love making a home for those people.”
The cocktails that are being served tend to skew towards playfulness and indulgence—Cipriani calls them “guilty pleasures,” and says the signature cocktail will likely be a frozen Cosmopolitan. In addition to that, expect other revivals of old-school creations like the Red Devil (a dizzying combo of vodka, peach schnapps, sloe gin, and Southern Comfort) and the vodka and Kahlua-filled Mudslide. Oh, if that wasn’t enough, an assortment of “completely, utterly ridiculous layered shots,” like the B52, which stacks coffee liqueur, Irish cream, and Grand Marnier.
“It’s definitely a bit of me reliving my youth with this bar,” he says.
As he’s hoping his main clientele will be locals or those who work locally, Cipriani isn’t too concerned about the constant turmoil surrounding the L train. He explains that during Hurricane Sandy’s train troubles, his former Williamsburg restaurant Lodge (which closed in 2018 after 14 years in the area) actually got busier due to people in the neighborhood not wanting to leave.
“I’m not actively seeking a fancy Manhattan crowd, so I think I’ll be just fine,” he says.
Though it has affordable prices, it’s not the kind of dive bar that’ll leave you wasted with nothing to gnaw on but that paper cup of water you got from a questionable dispenser. JJ’s will be serving a variety of Italian sandwiches served on a flatbread called piadina, with vegetarian and vegan options available as well as classic meat-based offerings like prosciutto and sopressata. During the day, you can get a sandwich and a drink combo as part of what Cipriani calls “really aggressive happy hour pricing.” And for the later crowd, there’ll also be a late night happy hour.
As far as events go, Cipriani promises “DJs and other weirdness,” including an “irreverent” monthly comedy show inspired by the likes of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and possibly a bit of pole dancing. Plus, there’s a light-up dance floor.
“For so long, going out in New York has been like going to church. It’s been dark bars, filament bulbs, the bistro vibe. I think it’s time people are looking to get out and have fun. I want this to be a little escape.”
JJ’s Hideaway, located at 97 North 10th Street in Williamsburg, opens Wednesday, August 21.