Beeline Interview: The Diamond’s Dave & Alex Pollack

[Photo by James Turek from New York Magazine]

Dave & Alex have something special. The Diamond. It’s the right mix of good beer, a chill environment, and unpretentious company. Conversations flow freely from behind the bar to those sitting around the bar to include even those playing shuffleboard. It feels seamless and open and never feels too crowded despite the crowds that do come through. They recently participated in Craft Beer Week, but Dave’s been guiding beer tastings for years. They’re green. They’ve always got good tasty beer. And, I hear their Brutus the Barber Beef Pie is scrummy.

Name: Dave & Alex Pollack
Occupation: We own the Diamond. Alex is a photo editor at New York Magazine
Borough/Neighborhood: Greenpoint

Tell us a little about the Diamond and how you got started: I was working for a very specialized beer importer, B. United International, while my wife Alex and I were dating and living in the East Village. This was a phenomenal company that invested heavily in my knowledge of specialty beer. I was all over Europe working on bringing in new beers and learning about our existing breweries. Meanwhile, Alex had her own catering company on Fisher’s Island and was doing promotional work for Eve Ensler. We took a trip to Seattle and were sitting at a wine and cheese bar one day and thought “we could do this.” Then we spent several years picking a location. I wanted to go pioneer in a depressed city in Connecticut. We looked at Bridgeport for a while and got pretty serious in New London. But we realized that it started to feel small. Living in New London one summer we started to notice it was like the Simpsons. Like there were really interesting characters there but by the 3rd week, we knew them all. It felt confined. So we came back to New York, settled in Greenpoint, and instantly felt home. I also worked on and off at Spuyten Duyvil through this period. This was the first time I had bartended or even worked in a bar. I learned so much there about how to run a business. I loved their model….no liquor, high quality/low maintenance food menu. Joe and Kim Carroll were major mentors for us.

What was the original idea behind the bar? We thought we’d build the bar that would be a super fun place to hang out that just happened to have a phenomenal beer list. For us, that meant lots of color, shuffleboard, plenty of Van Halen. It also meant making a great effort at stupid endeavors. For example, Geddy Lee playing bass on the hood of a datsun is a silly idea but let’s do it and make it look perfect (thanks Adam Kidder). The tap tower and bar rail surface should be luminescent rainbow powder-coated-small weird detail but done perfectly. Many of the big design elements are credited to Alex…the beautiful french lightboard, insistence that the bar MUST be a half circle, and lots of other stuff. As far as beer goes, I just buy what I like.

[Photo by James Turek from New York Magazine]

The bar is so open, relaxed and friendly, how did you decide to design the bar? I think that’s mostly answered by the previous question. Half circle bars are very communal. The big door to the garden makes it feel all like one space. The horizontal windows in front help too. Friendly is easy. You just have to be friendly and hire cool people.

What are you currently drinking? Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted.


[Photo from B. United International]

What would you recommend right now on your menu? Brutus the Barber Beef Pie. We will re-introduce the Thai Chicken Pie which is unbelievably good and hopefully a meatball plate this fall. [Ed.: Both sound incredibly delicious and perfect for the Fall. Points for naming a pie after Brutus the Barber Beefcake!]

Tell us a little about the weekend specials: We have a happy hour 5-7 mon-fri but nothing on the weekend. Looking to get some shuffleboard and quoits tournaments going this fall. We just did a fundraiser on Sunday… homebrewers/homechefs competition and we raised $1500 for an organization called East New York Farms. [Check out Cathy from NEOINY’s photos of the event here.–Ed.] We also have a new promo:

Switch your home electricity source to green power or wind power through con-ed solutions and receive a $10 gift certificate at The Diamond. Just bring in your letter from con-ed with proof of your switch. To get started go to:

Your cost for switching:
Green Power=65% hydro/35% wind (1 cent increase per kwh)
Wind Power=100% wind (2.5 cent increase per kwh)

Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: We go to Habitat, Brooklyn Label, 68 Restaurant, and Silent H

Little known fact about your neighborhood: The first European settlement in Greenpoint was on the spot where the Diamond is located. In 1645, Dirck “The Norman” Volchertsen built a Dutch style farmhouse at the present day corner of Calyer & Franklin. Look it up. [Ed.: It was on last year’s ghost tour.]

Favorite watering hole (other than the Diamond!): I like all the bars in Greenpoint but I never get to any of them. I’m at Black Rabbit from time to time, late night I’ll stop at Mark Bar

Best pizza in your hood: Triangolo

If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene? New London, CT.

[Photo from New London Limo]

What is your all time favorite monster movie? Halloween even though that’s not technically accurate.

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