By Bill Parry
A new neighborhood bar is set to open Sept. 4 on a once-desolate stretch of empty storefronts along Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside.
The ownership team originally wanted to open a sports bar, especially for the soccer crowd, but changed their minds midway through a gut renovation of the property, at 41-21 Greenpoint Ave., that was formerly home to Lowerys Medical Supplies.
“The main idea was to do a soccer bar, but we realized how much the neighborhood is changing with all the young professionals that are moving into the southside of Sunnyside,” owner Javier Garcia said. “Even though this stretch of Greenpoint was empty for years and years, there is so much potential here and I felt what it really needed was a nice bar. The kind of bar that can lead a renaissance over here — besides, there are plenty of other places where you can watch a soccer game.”
Garcia and his partners, Andrew Renfro, an engineer from Manhattan, and Rick Villa, a contractor from Brooklyn, will open Vivire two doors away from Thalia Theatre.
Garcia knows the neighborhood best, having lived on 41st Street for the last three years after moving from Woodside.
“I fell in love with Sunnyside and I wanted to make the first bar that I owned a really special one,” he said. “I told my mom I was no good for school and left college in Ecuador in 1997. I learned bartending really well and have been doing it ever since.”
Vivire has exposed brick walls decorated with large oil paintings of cityscapes and vintage wood rafters everywhere. A contracting partner of Villa’s, known as “The Irishman,” was in charge of the reclaimed wood.
“These rafters are all wood beams from 1845 that I removed from a townhouse on Wooster Street that we renovated,” Mark Swift said. “You can’t get wood like this anymore because all the trees are on steroids.”
The native of County Monaghan, Ireland, went on to explain that the wood for the bartop counter was from 1900.
“I counted 168 rings on that tree — you just can’t get wood like that anywhere anymore,” he said.
There are plenty of other vintage pieces in Vivire, including an old moonshining still.
“I’m not saying where I got it, but I will say I know people in strange places,” The Irishman said.
Garcia said visitors to his bar will find a fine selection of scotch, wine and beer.
“You’ll have better choices than at the usual pub,” he said. “But the best part is you won’t have to cross Queens Boulevard anymore — so many residents fear crossing that road at night.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.