Say what you will about filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (be it that you find him plagiaristic, self-indulgent, or simply a one-trick pony), it’s still rather difficult to not admire how his style effortlessly meshes fanboy shlock with cinematic academia. He really did invent a new way for indie genre films to be hip and possess a slight but unmistakable arthouse edge, and it’s no wonder that his aesthetic has remained so popular. For that reason, Killbar, a Tarantino-themed bar opening up in Williamsburg this weekend, feels like something that should have happened a while ago now.
Nestled on the west end of Williamsburg (just a few blocks up from the similarly attired music venue Baby’s All Right), Killbar fits like a glove for the area’s gentrified-yet-offbeat feel. Dipped in a neon glow, and livened by gorgeous artwork (courtesy of British artist Amar Stewart) that pays direct homage to Tarantino’s films, the establishment immediately comes off as the product of very passionate fandom. “We’re all big fans of Tarantino’s work,” the bar’s owner Mike Galgovich addresses. “We really all want to celebrate his work.”
Galkovich is certainly no stranger to venues that run on nostalgia fuel. He formerly worked at an 80s-themed bar on the Lower East Side called Graffiti Bar 85 (or GB85), and was looking to do something different yet in a similar vein. He fortunately discovered an available space in Williamsburg, which would provide them the space for both a bar and a restaurant. The food itself carries a zest to it that reflect Tarantino’s flavor (face it, all of his films taste delicious!), and almost all the dishes and drinks carry names that reference his work, from Death Proof Chili to Bloody Bride Margarita’s, although for some unfathomable reason they didn’t have a burger there referred to as a Royale With Cheese. Attendees at the bar’s opening all got to sample this, and response was almost overwhelmingly positive.
Also, like Tarantino’s filmography, while there is frequent allusions to violence in the imagery, the tone couldn’t be anymore jovial. Classic hip-hop music was played throughout the opening, featuring work from the likes of artists like The Pharcyde and MF Doom, lending a grimy-yet-fun atmosphere. Galkovich promises that Killbar will have a rotating door of artists contributing Tarantino-inspired work, and says that this opening weekend should feature no less than 12 DJs playing on all three nights. The venue will also host movie nights, showing Tarantino’s films, and possibly movies from other directors in the future too.
While I had said earlier that it was a bit perplexing that an establishment like Killbar hadn’t come to Williamsburg sooner, in many ways this bar is premiering at the perfect time. Tarantino is indeed releasing a new movie within the year (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set for a summer release), and after 27 years since he debuted with Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino’s brand has practically become a culture unto itself. Fans of the director and otherwise should find Killbar to be a most quenchable destination for them in 2019, especially in a part of Brooklyn that had no lack of color to begin with.