This Sunday, Williamsburg's BrisketTown, one of the city's finest BBQ restaurants, will close. The building that has housed the restaurant since 2012 has been sold to developers, who have plans to tear it down—along with adjacent buildings. It's unclear what exactly will rise in its place, but the condo construction boom continues to scorch Williamsburg's Southside.
This afternoon, we spoke with BrisketTown's owner Dan Delaney, who transformed a popular pop-up into a fully-fledged restaurant, which in turn helped propel him to other projects like his catering business and the Delaney Chicken operation in a food hall near Grand Central.
"There are a lot of lenses that you can look at every situation from," Delaney says. "I'm mostly sad because this was the first thing I ever did in the food space, and it's mostly feelings of nostalgia that are the saddest."
Delaney says he's been looking for a new home for BrisketTown for the past year and a half, as the current lease at 359 Bedford Avenue was set to expire later this year. In fact, he'd only ever imagined the Williamsburg space as something temporary, a pop-up restaurant that would eventually find a more permanent home. Potential spaces in the East Village and elsewhere in Brooklyn didn't pan out; then, the building on Bedford was sold.
"In my fantasy world, what would have happened is that we would have had the other space already locked in and would have been building it or built it," he explains. "This closes and then the new things open. But that timing didn't work out as we had hoped."
Briskettown (Paul Quitoriano/Gothamist)
Regardless, Delaney's confident about a future for BrisketTown or some other barbecue concept even if that's not in the immediate future. And he stresses that the Delaney BBQ business isn't shutting down. The company's successful catering arm, which he says has been more profitable than the restaurant so far, will continue to operate and keep the brand going—along with pop-ups— until such time as they open another restaurant.
In the interim, he's focusing on the Delaney Chicken concept, including a forthcoming location in Paramus, NJ that's opening soon. "I want to learn a lot and I believe I will learn a lot more by opening up something in an area that's more reflective of the United States at large than Manhattan, so that's why I chose to open the next location in New Jersey." Delaney's also originally from the Garden State.
And he's got a few other dreams he'd like to see coming down the pike for the Delaney brand's future, notably something that taps into his burger obsession.
"I would love to open a burger place," Delaney muses. "I have a 10-foot-long, huge neon sign in my kitchen that came off the side of a Johnny Rockets, which says 'hamburgers' and which illuminates all the time. On my wall I have wrappers from burger places that I've collected and framed. I have a giant, neon sign of McDonald's above my headboard that's six feet wide and five feet tall and it illuminates."
"I have a real interest in American food forms, it's always been that. Barbecue is that, fried chicken is that, and burgers is that and maybe pizza will be that one way. I love these classic, American, not pretentious, Every Man Joe-kind of food forms," Delanye conclues. "I romanticize them, I love going to the diners and the doughnuts shops or whatever. I'd take that over Per Se any day."