They had the space, they just needed the concept.
A few years back, Michael Brooks was working with his friends — brothers Rotimi and Ayo Akinnuoye and his fraternity brother, Peter Medford — on a building the Akinnuoyes owned at the corner of Putnam and Tompkins avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Among its three commercial spaces, there was a juice bar, a patisserie and, the smallest at about 200 square feet, an underutilized storage closet.
Brooks had some success previously running a wine shop in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and the pharmaceutical veteran saw a similar opportunity here for residents to spend their disposable income in the neighborhood.
Bed-Vyne Wine opened in October 2011 — the first of what would soon be two more popular businesses serving the neighborhood: the bars Bed-Vyne Brew and Bed-Vyne Cocktail.
“We knew there was going to be an untapped market of professionals that were looking for services that didn’t exist at this point,” Brooks said. “We were able to be a pioneer, at least in this neighborhood, in wine, craft beer, craft cocktails and craft spirits.”
When the patisserie space opened up, the owners thought about going into craft beer retail — but their wine customers had other ideas.
“Everyone kept saying, ‘We want a place to drink,’” Brooks said. “We ended up changing it to a bar because that’s what the neighborhood wanted.”
Bed-Vyne Brew opened in June 2013, focusing on wine and domestic craft beer, and was a “hit overnight,” Brooks said.
“A lot of people who lived here didn’t have a go-to place in this neighborhood where they could sit, where they could drink a beer or glass of wine, listen to good music and just vibe out,” he said.
The bar primarily draws young professionals from the neighborhood — the “movers and shakers” of their respective industries, from art to law to medicine, Brooks said — and a diverse crowd of twenty- and thirty-somethings pack Bed-Vyne Brew’s patio and spill out onto the sidewalk during the city’s prime outdoor drinking season, from spring to fall.
DJs play almost nightly while the bartenders serve a rotating selection of beers from the likes of Evil Twin, SingleCut, Two Roads and Kings County Brewers Collective, as well as wine from Bed-Vyne’s own private label of red and white varietals (yet another expansion for the brand).
“It’s like their ‘Cheers,’” Brooks said. “People come here and it’s like an extension of their living room.”
After making a name in wine and beer, liquor was Bed-Vyne’s next foray. In 2015, the wine store took over the next-door juice shop, doubling its size and offering space to start stocking craft spirits. The owners also opened a craft cocktail bar, Bed-Vyne Cocktail, four blocks away in March 2015 on Halsey Street near Throop Avenue. Located on a quieter block, it doesn’t encourage the same impressive, late-night crowds as Bed-Vyne Brew, but there is a DJ on weekends and a backyard for sipping on frozen cocktails and digging into a plate of tacos.
With three businesses keeping them busy, Brooks said Bed-Vyne isn’t looking to expand again anytime soon. But he does see some neighborhood holes that could be filled by other entrepreneurs.
“I think this neighborhood is pretty good on bars — now what needs to happen is some more restaurants,” Brooks said. “I would also like to see some more entertainment over here — maybe a movie theater. A movie theater would be really nice.”
Correction: The original version of this article misspelled one of Bed-Vyne co-founder's names. It's Rotimi, not Roitimi Akinnuoye.