Some of the best innovations are born of necessity. Tell us a little bit more about why PDT has its secret entrance.
The space PDT inhabits was a failing bubble tea lounge before it was a bar. My partner, Crif Dogs’ founder Brian Shebairo, had a full liquor license but wasn’t harnessing its potential at his hot dog stand (where canned beer is king). Full liquor licenses are tough to obtain in neighborhoods like ours that are already filled with bars. He offered to take over his neighbor’s lease and when she finally agreed, he gutted the space and built a bar. In order to use the Crif Dogs liquor license in the bar space and avoid having to apply for a second license, he couldn’t use the street entrance to the old bubble tea lounge – so he cut a hole in the wall and chose a vintage phone booth as the portal between the spaces. While we have no signage, active Internet site or social media accounts, we’ve never tried to keep PDT a secret.
The perceived secret definitely adds to the draw but I’m sure people wouldn’t return if the drinks were bad, right?
Our hot dog menu, which we’ve partnered with neighborhood chefs to produce, and cocktails, which we develop seasonally in house, have been fundamental to our success – but warm, professional service is what keeps guests coming back. I’m biased, but I don’t think you’ll find a more creative selection of drinks in the city. With that said, the final evaluation of the products we offer remains in the hands of our guests, most of whose frame of reference varies greatly from mine. Most operators in New York City would agree that the quality of food and beverages, which we’re all free to buy, is a prerequisite; atmosphere and service are where the great places separate themselves from the rest.