Owners of Grand Banks and Pilot Open Restaurant on Land

Alex and Miles Pincus refer to Holywater, their new sidewalk bar in TriBeCa, as their first “land bar” in New York. It’s not an odd dis...


Alex and Miles Pincus refer to Holywater, their new sidewalk bar in TriBeCa, as their first “land bar” in New York.

It’s not an odd distinction considering that all of the bars the brothers and bar owners have opened in New York so far have been seasonal, near or on the water. There’s Island Oyster on the waterfront of Governors Island and Drift In, which is in Hudson River Park. Others are physically on boats: Grand Banks was built above a 1942 schooner which is anchored at Pier 25 in the same park; Pilot, moored at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, is named after the ship built in 1924 in Massachusetts on which it does business.

“Boats and booze,” said Alex Pincus. “My two hobbies.”

Holywater, which opens in early May, may be landlocked, but it still has the maritime character that characterizes all of Pincus’ adventures. The walls are lined with nautical artifacts from their extensive personal collection, including photographs of the brothers on various decks, paintings of crisp sailors, the transom of the 1932 schooner Brilliant, and a hammerhead shark that Alex bought on eBay.

The Pincus have built their businesses – and their lives – around water.

At the age of 12, Miles Pincus attended a sailing camp in New Orleans, where the brothers grew up and fell in love with the sport. Long before he got his driver’s license, he bought an old sailboat for $500, rebuilt it using how-to books, and sold it for $1,400.

“I was always kind of a scrappy entrepreneur when I was a kid,” he said.

Alex forged his own path at the water. At the age of 12, he was sent to a camp in North Carolina where he learned to kayak and sail, and he eventually went on a number of whitewater expeditions across the world.

The New Orleans hotels where their father, Ronald, worked were their playgrounds and second homes (he’s now vice president and COO of the historic Hotel Monteleone). In this lenient city, they experienced bar life from an early age.

Holywater is meant to evoke what they miss most about their favorite hometown saloons. The cocktail menu is a combination of New Orleans-oriented drinks (special cocktail from Arnaud, Roffignac) and world classics (Rob Roy, sidecar and the Old Pal, a Negroni variant which is Alex’s go-to ).

“We really wanted to bring it back to how we grew up drinking and hanging out in bars, where there’s a stranger,” Alex said. “You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s esoteric and interesting and dark and sometimes seedy.

The brothers’ affinity for surfing (boats) and turf (bars) became a pursuit when the two moved to New York for school – and stayed. In 2006, the two launched Atlantic Yachting, a company that offers children’s sailing camps, adult sailing lessons and sailboat rentals. Driving groups along the Hudson, they gazed at the Manhattan shoreline and thought how much fun people were having on the waterfront.

One year, Alex hosted his birthday party aboard the Clipper City, a ship that Miles had rebuilt. Too many people showed up, making the boat unsafe and keeping the festivities docked.

“He and I kind of joked about it afterwards,” Miles said. “’We should just have a boat that’s not going anywhere!’ Everyone’s favorite part is sitting on the dock having a drink at the end of the day.”

And so the seeds of the Grand Banks, Pilot and others were sown. But Holywater, their underground Reade Street bar, doesn’t mean the Pincus brothers have turned their backs on the bars on the decks of ships. They bought a New York City Fire Department fireboat at a city auction several years ago — and are building a bar on it.

All these years later, their father is still amazed that his sons have entered his profession.

“I was quite surprised that they tackled food and beverage, which for me is one of the hardest businesses to run,” Ronald Pincus said.

Alex ignores it as inevitable.

“Usually people who like boats like to drink,” he said, “for better or for worse.”

Holywater, 112 Reade Street, crewny.com/holywaterno phone.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Owners of Grand Banks and Pilot Open Restaurant on Land
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