Bushwick tends to be known, in large part, for a couple of specific things: its preponderance of fancy foods, of course, and its warehouses, the latter acting as a reminder of the neighborhood’s days as a place where people made things, and huge companies paid them decent money to do so (see also: the former Rheingold beer factory, now being turned into condos). The two rarely overlap, though, and represent a stark enough “New Brooklyn” versus “Old Brooklyn” contrast that the local Community Board is actually trying to keep some new restaurants out in hopes of preserving manufacturing space—a board member recently chided a trendy taco truck owner, “That’s an industrial business zone. It’s meant for industry.” At the nexus of these two things is Bruce Cost.
After selling his wildly popular (and surprisingly spicy) ginger ale for years at his businesses in San Francisco and Chicago, veteran restaurateur Bruce Cost launched his eponymous line of beverages out of Brooklyn in 2010, and in early April, will open up a 22,000 square foot headquarters near the Morgan stop. Cost explains, “We wanted to be in general area of Bushwick or East Williamsburg because we were producing ginger ale nearby. We were lucky to find the building we’re in…because of the intense desirability, landlords are in the drivers seat and leasing prices go up by the week.” His company was initially outbid for their space by FedEx, but took over when the deal fell through.
The space is hardly a large-scale job creator on par with Rheingold or the Domino Sugar Factory in their heydays—right now they’ve got six people working in the office and eight in the factory—but it does represent an interesting compromise, and will likely only get bigger. “We’re looking to hire a couple more people right away and, if we continue to grow as we have, we will need people (we have eight empty desks and chairs with fully working computers ready to go),” says Cost, who commutes in from his home in the East Village.
Maybe more to the point, they’re a natural fit for the neighborhood in its current state, already stocked at just about every respectable local deli and grocery store, and poised for a similar sweep of local restaurants; Cost tells us “We’re supposed to be going on the menu at Roberta’s any day,” and it’s not hard to imagine a (welcome) onslaught of the stuff on neighborhood cocktail menus. Bushwick may never get its beer factory back, but it’s very ready for a soda factory.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.