Aziz and Elliot Bey are the proud proprietors of NY Perks, a “martini lounge, winebar, grill” located at 193 Smith Street, between Warren and Baltic streets, in the Carroll Gardens-Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, N.Y. I visited this engaging place a few weeks before its one-year anniversary, which it is celebrating this month. I went on a Friday night, when admission is always free and live entertainment is provided by the Salsbury Brothers jazz band.
NY Perks is appropriately named, what with all that’s going on to lift our spirits, beginning with the lighting and the tantalizing beat of the music that greet you as you enter through a side door. On the evening of my visit, African-American author Vaugh T. Aiken was selling his new book, My Soul Is Not For Sale. He had set up a table inside, right near the entrance. The band was playing next to him and patrons, scattered about in three different seating areas, were talking, drinking and eating. A large plasma TV above a small bar at the front of the lounge was tuned to a movie on one of the cable stations. In the back, at a long, curved cherry mahogany bar, more patrons drank and talked. Past the mahogany bar was an outdoor atrium, where still more customers conversed. And downstairs, in the Merlot Lounge, a private party was in full swing.
That an author was selling his book in the lounge was nothing strange to regulars. It’s the kind of thing the Bey brothers have encouraged since they opened the lounge. “We’re always looking for people who need a venue to showcase anything, including art and music, or just to have meetings. Some things are free; if not, everything is absolutely affordable. We welcome everyone, no matter what walk of life, race or gender you are,” says Elliott. “If you have a book, or a product line, or artwork; if there’s something we can do to bring your product to the forefront, we’ll definitely do it free of charge,” he says.
By no means is this an impromptu arrangement, where one can simply show up with one’s product. “What we’ll also do is partner your product or thing with the event going on. We’ll try to match it up so that it will be beneficial to you and the patrons will be interested in what you’re doing. People can promote things with our approval and within good taste. We pay close attention to what the product is or what you’re selling,” he adds.
Another “perk” is the venue’s Independent Film Promotions on the second Monday of every month, where films by African-Americans are screened. The films are obtained from the Act Now Foundation. Patrons are admitted free for the screenings. There’s also the monthly exhibit of 2-D works; a different local artist exhibits each month.
NY Perks has an extensive wine list–65 different whites and reds, most of them from Italy. There is a selection of 20 champagnes and sparkling wines, and the bartenders can create 25 different martinis. There’s also a stock of Remy Martin, Louis XIII and Bacardi. The menu carries delicious but basic appetizers, including chicken fingers and steak fries. NY Perks also offers catering–from $25 to $55 per person. Choices range from fish and chips to fancy shrimp.
When you come into NY Perks, Aziz Bey wants you to forget your troubles, be they related to work, family, or politics. “We want you to come in here and wash away all of that and have an experience unlike any other you can get,” he says.
NY Perks is open every week from Tuesday to Sunday. It’s a joint that’s always jumping with some event or activity. Add to the list karaoke and comedy. To be kept abreast of these happenings, sign up online for the mailing list at www.nyperks.com or call 718-237-2901.