Stretching from the Brooklyn Bridge nearly to Queens, Fulton Street is known as being one of the oldest shopping districts in Brooklyn. In the 19th Century, Fulton Street was known for upscale shopping and fine dining, and even as the demographics in the city have changed, the essence of what the thoroughfare is remains today.
IV Purpose (pronounced For-Purpose) sits in the heart of Fulton between Tompkins and Throop Avenues. Foot traffic, music playing from passing cars, the hissing of airbrakes on buses and the sound of people from all over saturate the air. You can get a haircut in one shop and step twenty feet to your right and watch NYCFC take on Atlanta, Fulton's got Brooklyn energy at all times. We sat down with Nancy Pham and Travis Frasier of IV Purpose to discuss what it’s like to open a business during a pandemic, their love of sports, and how they want to give the community a sports bar to call its own.
Tommie Battle: So, when did IV Purpose open its doors?
Travis Frasier: July of last year, during the pandemic.
TB: Wow. So how did the neighborhood take to your opening?
TF: The neighborhood took us in pretty well, it was obviously slow in the beginning. A lot of questions, a lot of "Hey, what's this spot?" The older people in the community knew the previous establishment that was here, so they wanted to know, you know, is it something new or something that's coming back from before? So it took a little bit of adjustment, but so far the local community seems to like us a lot.
TB: What was it like opening a bar in a pandemic? Obviously the challenges are there.
Nancy Pham: Our original date to open was March 17. We got shut down that exact week, everything from construction to electrical, everything was stopped.No one was allowed in the building. It was rough. rules were very unclear from the beginning. So when we did finally open our doors there was a new rule every week, there's new inspectors. So it was like, basically, what helped us was all the restaurants that were still open. The community keeps an eye on each other, helping each other out and making sure that we're able to follow the rules, basically. But it was hard. It was even down to the deliveries and staff, we had to work ourselves, just because no one was working. It was rough. But to-go stuff helped a lot. Yeah. That helped keep our head above water.
TF: You basically start with a vision, start with a plan, and then everything gets sliced, and it's like, “Alright, now let's do this.” But in a sense, the pandemic almost became a blessing and a curse, because the shutdown happened, we were allowed to slow down just a little bit, just kind of take our time to get certain areas fixed.
TB: What's your experience with running bars? Because obviously, there has been some sort of knowledge and composure to manage through all of this.
NP: I've been doing it for 18 years. I’ve done waitressing, bartending, and managing. I've also had hands on opening Bleachers back in 2017. So I came across Darnell because we went to high school together. He had mentioned he wanted to open (a restaurant) as well. That's always been my dream and passion to open up my own. I think the dope part about the three of us is that because of what we all do, we are able to fill in, like Travis is in charge of entertainment, Darnell with real estate and all the legal stuff, and I'm the hands on person. I'll be on the floor, getting my hands dirty.
TF: I have no, no real history in the restaurant industry. I mean, I cook. I do personal things like catering. But I own other companies outside of the industry, even though I've worked in the live entertainment industry for the most part. We've worked alongside restaurants and caterers, but I've never actually been a part of it. I’m always up for a challenge.
TB: What's your relationship with sports? I see the NYCFC flags hanging.
NP: When we all sat down, I begged for it to be a sports bar, because all year round there's always something. Coming from Bishop Ford Catholic where they were known for being an athlete’s school, it was one of those things where all our friends and family just are obsessed. So sports was just something in my mind that happens all year round for somebody who's going to watch soccer, baseball, and basketball. There’s always something on TV. So it's something that can have a crowd all the time. And a steady flow of drinks.
TF: I've always liked to be at a game. I like the environment, and if you can create that environment outside of the actual game, then that's a beautiful thing. We've already seen it time and time again. You know, one thing happens and the whole block goes crazy. So we want to be able to bring that at the game feel to a space where you can sit down and enjoy.
NP: Also in Brooklyn it's very rare to find a good sports bar. Good food, good drinks, seating, and a group of people to talk about sports. I think that's the biggest struggle for a while for a lot of people, my clientele is a huge athlete base and the hardest thing that they say is that you go to bars and no one's talking about it. They can't vibe with each other or debate about sports in most places, and that was the environment that we wanted to give everyone here. High School flags, College flags, all the teams, so it's such a good place for everyone to have their team spirit.
TB: What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
NP: I think we're just focused on maximizing here. We’re getting past the pandemic phase and providing a safe spot for people to continue to come back on a daily basis.
TF: I think maximizing the potential of the space was the main goal. Personally, I want to see everything that this place can bring out.
IV Purpose is located on 1489 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11216, you can follow them on Instagram @ivpurpose_bk