You may have only started noticing Ethyl’s at 312 Grand Street recently, but the new location of the ’70s-themed dance bar and performance space has actually been underway since 2018.
The original Ethyl’s Alcohol opened in the Upper East Side to pay homage to Elaine’s, Max’s Kansas City, The Copa, The Playboy Club, Jilly’s, Cafe Central, Studio 54, and the all other popular disco spots of yesteryear inspired by the 1970s adventures of owners and native New Yorkers Charlie Sub and Brooklyn-born Gerard Renny.
After establishing Ethyl’s uptown, the team sought out another area to call home and ultimately landed on Williamsburg (in the space formerly known as Mulholland’s), which they saw as a natural progression given the evolution of their customer base.
“A good portion of our clientele were kids who were coming to visit on the Upper East Side, who had friends who lived up there, family who lived up there,” Renny explained. “Over the pandemic, a lot of people that were regulars at the Ethyl’s uptown moved to Williamsburg.”
And in the time since opening — which, as with most businesses, was delayed by Covid — one of the biggest differentiating factors between Williamsburg and Upper East Side is the sense of community in Brooklyn.
“The people in Williamsburg are a little bit more artistic. It’s more musicians, artists, performance artists. A lot of your clientele also work in the same industry that we’re in,” Renny reflected. “We think Ethyl’s is right for the neighborhood. And so we made the changes that we felt we needed to make to create more of a neighborhood vibe more, you know, and also to make sure that the energy in the room is better.”
To make said changes, Renny and the team decided to close down in late August for a series of remodels, resulting in more minimalist external signage to align with the look and feel of the neighborhood and a freshly designed space with a front bar and back bar room designated for performances from DJs, bands, dancers, and beyond, plus a backyard lounge. Brooklyn’s propensity for community also extends to the menu, which includes signature burgers, the Ethylz Pretzel, and jerk chicken wings (to name a few) featuring locally sourced products and ingredients like Mike’s Hot Honey and Peter Luger Steak Sauce.
These updates were introduced to the public on October 13, and Ethyl’s has been getting back into the swing of weekly performances, dance parties, and themed nights ever since. Looking ahead, Renny is also in the process of planning collaborative monthly events with their neighbor, Southside Guitars, and local band residencies.
“We’re trying to keep it community minded, neighborhood minded,” Renny said.