On New Year’s Eve, the Mulberry Project will celebrate four years of doing boozeness. A space known for its good food and innovative cocktails, it’s a late night favorite for the hipper than thou set. Now, it has a sister in the Greenwich Project and another sibling on the way with 1919.
1919 was the year Prohibition was enacted—people were not legally allowed a cocktail, a shot, or a beer until 1933. See Boardwalk Empire for more information. But people drank anyway in places called “speakeasy’s”—called that because you needed to keep quiet about them less the coppers found them out. I caught up with owner Nick Boccio and asked him all about it.
New Years Eve is the 4th anniversary of the Mulberry Project. What has worked, what has been tweaked, and where is the project headed?
I feel that we have established a very loyal following at Mulberry Project over the past four years, and our customers continue to come back due to the quality of cocktails and food—and of course the unique and energetic ambiance. One thing we have done consistently over the years is to keep reinventing ourselves and evolving. Whether it’s revamping the interior design and collaborating with local artists or revamping the menu, people can always expect a new and fresh experience at Mulberry Project. I think a lot of our success is also due to our neighborhood-focused approach, and making sure we are always adapting to the market and what our customers want.
Greenwich Village, east of 6th Avenue (for about 3 blocks) can actually be compared to New Jersey in terms of shoe-gazing and other such shopping (t-shirts, smoke shops, etc). Why did you decide to open a high-end restaurant like Greenwich Project on this block/location and why doesn’t what I just said matter?
I felt that being in the Greenwich Village / West Village neighborhood would allow us to expand our business to reach a new customer base. There are many very successful local restaurants in this area, and this was an opportunity to provide the affluent local residents with a new, upscale dining experience that didn’t exist in this neighborhood. As with all of The Project Group’s venues, our focus is on providing high quality food, service & ambiance that will make Greenwich Project not only a local favorite but also a restaurant with destination appeal.
Tell me about the menu at Greenwich Project—the presentation and your target audience?
The menu at both venues is contemporary American with European influences. At Greenwich Project the concept is more restaurant-focused with a menu of composed and refined dishes and seasonal specials that reflect the more upscale ambiance and appeal to a slightly more sophisticated diner. Mulberry Project is a more casual cocktail lounge that also offers guests a fantastic food menu ideal for light bites or a full dinner. The dishes at Mulberry are more simplified and great for sharing over cocktails. Our clientele at Greenwich Project is a little more sophisticated and skews slightly older while Mulberry Project attracts a younger, hip demographic.
Tell me about the liquor program at the two spots.
At Greenwich Project our cocktail program is focused on creating well-balanced cocktails using high-quality ingredients, including many syrups & additives that we make in house. We have a menu of “classic cocktails” such as a Dark & Stormy, and a selection of our own signature cocktails created by our head mixologists. At Mulberry Project we have a unique bespoke cocktail program, based on the concept of developing custom cocktails made to order for each guest using the fresh ingredients of the day.
What’s the next project?
Project 1919, (1919 is the year the Volstead Act was passed by Congress). This project is a pop-up that will open December 31st, 2013 and last till March 31st, 2014. It’s The Project Group’s rendition of a “speakeasy, within a speakeasy.” It will be more of a curated cocktail program focusing mainly on stirred drinks and dark liquors. The interior will be very cozy, with warm woods and metal accents. It will be located behind 149 Mulberry Street and you will need a reservation to attend.