"Christmas lights and jukeboxes are my favorite things when you walk into a bar," exclaims Bryan Quackenbush while describing his new bar, Marco's, that he just opened in Bushwick. "It's what I think of when I think of a good bar." His lighting preference is immediately evident once you step inside. Twinkling strands of lights encircle the bar, which Quackenbush and his business partner Greg Goldman salvaged from a defunct restaurant near Syracuse.
"We don't know the name of the restaurant it came from, [but] it was built by this old Italian guy named Marco in the late '50s, it was in his restaurant," Quackenbush explains. "We used a picture to reassemble it and try to leave it exactly as it was, which kind of sucks a little bit for your service because it wasn't as intuitive in 1957."
Quackenbush also runs Bushwick's Old Stanley bar, which offers a similar "old man dive bar" aesthetic that would fit as comfortably in Minneapolis as it does in Brooklyn. An ancient Broadway gaming machine may be poised to court vice but "it doesn't pay out," Quackenbush assures, and pinball machines—not the innocent games they may outwardly project, except for this one which...—come in James Bond and Playboy editions, themselves not free from sin. But who wants virtue at a bar?
Wickedness comes cheap at Marco's, where a beer and shot'll run you $6 and all the house and classic cocktails just $8. Inspired by the champagne well holding court behind the bar, there's a "Marco's Champagne Cocktail" made with cognac, a sugar cube and a prosecco floater. Happy hour—which runs to an egalitarian 9 p.m. every day of the week—brings even cheaper prices, with $2 off drafts, wells and wines, but they'll also sell you a Bud or Bud Light for $3 whenever you drop in.
"Right now it's got some tables and chairs and some ashtrays," Quackenbush says of the space's "massive" back yard, but plans for the future may include a mobile food truck of some kind.
There's also a jukebox stacked with new wave, hip hop, punk rock and "nostalgic pop music," which includes not one but two Whitney Houston records.
1071 Broadway, Brooklyn