After finding himself out of a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Jordan of Patchogue decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.
Jordan wanted to create a restaurant that not only was for the public to enjoy but for servers and bartenders to kick back at too.
That’s what his top-shelf kitchen, WhiskeyNeat, is all about.
WhiskeyNeat is not going to be just a bar or a whiskey joint, Jordan says, but a serious food-focused restaurant that specializes in dark spirits.
The new East Main Street spot is taking over the old Fulton’s Gate Irish Pub and plans to open its doors to the public on Monday.
Whiskey is the common drink of choice for those in the restaurant industry, Jordan says, and many bartenders drink it “neat,” meaning straight from the bottle, in an Old Fashioned glass with no ice.
“The first shot you learn how to take is a shot of Jameson,” he says. “We wanted to create a place that we would enjoy, but also that the service industry would enjoy — so this idea of calling the place WhiskeyNeat is almost a nod to the bartenders.”
The name also spells out “Whiskey N’ Eat,” to show how the restaurant is food-centric, Jordan said.
WhiskeyNeat plans on incorporating monthly chef tastings, where the restaurant will bring in a new chef to create a prix-fixe tasting menu, and those items will remain on the WhiskeyNeat menu as specials for the month.
Chefs of different backgrounds and experiences will be featured, and the menu will be ever-changing.
Jordan wants to reinvent the idea of “bar food” with WhiskeyNeat and take inspiration from fine dining, street food, and even “grandma’s kitchen” to elevate the customer’s experience.
“The chefs we’ve spoken to, because of COVID, are very excited to really experiment with something new,” he said. “They might have been working in the same restaurant for 20 years, and all of a sudden they are out of a job, forced to try new things, and that has brought a lot of creativity to our community.”
Patrons can sit where they like, scan a QR code for the menu, and have a limited contact dining experience.
The whiskey selection is handpicked by Jordan and his team.
“The hope is that a whiskey guy will come in here and take a look and say ‘I’ve never heard of that before’ and maybe that will become their new favorite spirit,” Jordan said. “This is going to be part of the job now, searching for these hidden gems that we want to be able to offer.”
Jordan’s extensive resume in the food and beverage industry started out at small college parties and nightclubs.
The nightclub scene wasn’t for him, he said, so he began working in restaurants and moving up to marketing and consulting to help boost bar sales.
He worked at Melrose Ballroom in Astoria, Queens — where he met his now business partner, Robert Delgiorno — Brownstone Brewing Company in Ronkonkoma and The Meetball Place in Patchogue.
But both Jordan and Delgiorno lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“It really turned that whole world upside down, so somebody like me with a whole background in bars, nightlife, and gathering, it impacted me and I had to rethink what my future was going to be,” Jordan said. “I really had to create my own destiny.”
That’s when the idea for WhiskeyNeat was born.
Jordan said it’s been a “point of pride” for him to open in the middle of a pandemic, and he credits Patchogue for supporting him all the way.
Fulton’s Gate closed in October after six years of business, and Jordan said he chose to keep the interior of the space somewhat similar to the Irish pub in honor of the village staple.
“We really wanted to have an impactful change, but without doing away with the legacy of Fulton’s Gate,” Jordan said. “We wanted to maintain the warm feeling that they had and hopefully we’re able to do a good job of holding onto some of those elements while making some of the improvements.”
the inside look
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Top: The whiskey selection at WhiskeyNeat’s bar in Patchogue.