A Boardwalk Grows In Brooklyn
Strolling through Brooklyn’s Fulton Street on any given day, onlookers might find themselves noticing a trend among the cozy storefronts lining the thoroughfare. Even with the gargantuan Barclays Center anchoring the street, a stop at any number of the nearby restaurants or cafés will yield a trendy similarity among them; reclaimed wood.
While the repurposed wood movement has been popping up all over cities small and large, the stories behind the materials, used in office spaces, homes, commercial projects, etc. are rarely told.
This is where lawyer and restaurateur Bill Kelly comes in. Kelly, who grew up in Rockaway, reached out to The Wave with a particularly interesting story regarding some old Rockaway boardwalk wood.
“I had been thinking about it for a long time, wanting to do something with that boardwalk wood,” said Kelly, one of the owners of Mason Jar BBQ. “I had no idea what, and then, when we opened the Brooklyn location and we were looking at tables and all that, I said, ‘this is perfect.’”
The BBQ restaurant, which has its flagship location in Midtown Manhattan, is a new addition to Fort Greene, Brooklyn and is located in the heart of Gotham Market at Ashland – a 16,000 square-foot space housing seven other drinking and dining concepts.
For the purposes of BBQ fare, Kelly figured a giant table made of Rockaway boardwalk wood – given that some of the other owners are also from Rockaway – was a no-brainer.
“We’re a BBQ restaurant so it kind of fits that look and theme,” said Kelly. “We were figuring out the décor and half of the [partners] are in Rockaway, so I thought, ‘if I can find that wood, maybe we can make a huge communal table’ and they said, ‘absolutely.’”
Kelly was able to get in contact with table maker Juan Marcos Myerston, who then traveled to Connecticut to hand select pieces of the old Rockaway boardwalk for the project.
Because of the density of the wood, the table – which stands at about 14 feet long and seats about 16 people – took approximately four months to complete. Kelly says the type of wood, called Ipe, is some of the densest in the world and comes from the jungles of Guyana and Brazil.
“Because the wood is very dense, the table maker had to try a bunch of different finishes before he had success,” Kelly explained. “He had to put it in a kiln for a few weeks and once it came out, he started sanding and cutting. There were big holes where the bolts used to be and those all had to be removed and filled in. This was an extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive process but we wanted to capture the history of the boardwalk we grew up with and that Superstorm Sandy took from us.”
The drive behind the project for Mason Jar’s owners, according to Kelly, was for the friends to have a place to congregate and reminisce.
“The boardwalk was like a member of the family to those of us who were born and raised in Rockaway,” said Kelly. “It connects every one of us. Now Mason Jar BK has that piece of our history and every person who loved that boardwalk can sit with us and remember.”
The table will officially be unveiled at Mason Jar BK, 590 Fulton St., on Friday, May 12.