Almost three years in, Deagan's Kitchen and Bar shows no signs of letting up. The Lakewood gastropub is consistently ranked by its diners as one of the best places to eat and drink on the west side of town. In fact, many of those customers actually are Eastsiders, who almost weekly ask owner Dan Deagan, "When are you going to open up on our side of town?"
Not soon, says Deagan.
"I like being close to my restaurants in case something happens," he explains.
That's why he's opening Humble Wine Bar seven minutes from home and two blocks west of Deagan's. Not only is the location on Detroit Avenue ideal, says Deagan, but the timing seems right to make a move as well.
"We love Lakewood and thought that it could use a good wine bar," he says. "And it seems like a lot of people want to be in Lakewood these days."
When an operator runs a pair of restaurants a short three-minute walk from one another, the goal is to make them as different as possible. That's exactly what Deagan had in mind with Humble.
"We have a much bigger menu at Deagan's than we will here," he says. "Over there, craft beer is the focal point. Here, it's wine. We slow down in summer over there because we don't have a patio. Here we do, so we're hoping to attract those crowds."
Deagan and his team currently are putting the finishing touches on the wine bar, which is located in the former Bob's Big Boy/Sakura space. The footprint has been reduced to a more manageable 2,000 square feet, and will seat about 90 guests inside and out when all is said and done. Two large front-facing garage doors roll up to create an incredible inside-outside environment.
The first thing guests will likely notice upon entering Humble is the hulking pizza oven, a 4,500-pound behemoth around which the remainder of the restaurant was constructed. It was custom built for the room, shipped clear across country, and installed in the far corner of the room. It is the central element of the open kitchen, which sits immediately adjacent to the bar. Spanning both is a handsome walnut butcher block counter, meaning that those seated there will either be at the bar or directly in front of the kitchen.
Crisp, white subway tile covers the walls of the kitchen, warm woods front the bar, and a mahogany-colored wine cellar holds about 500 bottles. Down below, slate-stained concrete covers the floors. Over head, painted and distressed tin panels go a long way toward giving the room some genuine personality. The feature was something Deagan's wife Erika saw and loved in Brooklyn.
"We build places that we're comfortable in and just hope that everybody else is too," notes Deagan. "We want Humble to be approachable, because wine bars can sometimes be a bit snobby, and we don't want that at all."
Deagan's chef Tim Bando has been making quality thin-crust pies for decades at restaurants near and far, and he'll be heading up the program at Humble. "We might be a wine bar, but I'm striving for making the best, most authentic pizzas I can possibly make," he says.
There will be about eight to 10 designed pies on the menu, says the chef, adding that customers will not be able to pick and choose their toppings (though they're free to omit some). Combinations include housemade Italian sausage, peppers and onions; lardo with roasted garlic and fontina; and roast chicken, pesto, goat cheese and pine nuts.
"These flavors compliment each other, and the thin crust can't handle a whole bunch of toppings," says Bando.
In addition to the pies, customers will be able to choose from a large selection of fine cheeses and charcuterie, some cold and hot antipasti, and some salads. Humble will be dinner only, but they intend to add weekend brunch down the road.
A sommelier-driven wine program will feature approximately 15 selections by the glass, including six on tap and another 150 or so by the bottle. The beer list will be short and sweet, says Deagan, with about four drafts and a dozen or so bottles, many of them large format.
"Sharing a bottle of wine is a social thing," he explains. "I like the idea of doing the same with beer. Plus, there are a lot of great beers that are only available in large format."