Saturday September 29, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Brix Wine Bar on West Street is being sold, and the new owner plans to re-open the establishment as a restaurant.

Joad Bowman, who is in the process of purchasing Brix from current owner Adam Hersch, said he hopes to re-open the establishment late next week as a restaurant known as "Phineas Gage’s Moral High Ground." Brix has been closed since Monday.

Brix’s sale is contingent on the change in ownership of the establishment’s liquor license being approved by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, Bowman said.

Once the ABCC approves the change in the ownership of the liquor license, Bowman can form his own corporation to run the new establishment.

He appeared in front of the Pittsfield Licensing Board on Monday to change the business’ name on the establishment’s liquor license, and is scheduled to appear before the board again next month.

Bowman, who started at Brix as a waiter shortly after moving to Pittsfield from Alaska in 2004, most recently served as the wine bar’s manager. He decided to purchase the business from Hersch because "it was a good opportunity."

Bowman also owns Thistle and Mirth, a bar/restaurant that is located two doors down from Brix on West Street.

"I made it quite doable," he said, referring to his tenure as manager at Brix.

Bowman decided to change the business from a wine bar to a restaurant based on the cuisine favored by the eatery’s new chef, Steve Root, who arrived in May.

"Ultimately, it came down to the fact that we plan to go with a new direction with food," Bowman said. "There was a disconnect going with Brix and what the food was. We decided to make it more like the food [used to be]."

According to various In ternet sources, Phineas Gage was a 19th century railway worker from Vermont who became famous for surviving an accident in 1848 that sent a long iron rod completely through his head. The accident damaged the frontal lobe in his brain and changed his personality. But Gage’s recovery and rehabilitation (he lived for 12 years after the accident) provided the first evidence that different parts of the brain have separate functions and became one of the cornerstones of modern neuroscience.

"I’ve always been fascinated by him," Bowman said, referring to Gage. "I also like the sound of his name."

On Facebook, Bowman said that "Phin’s" will be a "far more casual, funky bar and eatery" than Brix and will have a "fun and less pricey" menu. Plans call for local artists to paint revolving murals on the walls, each lasting about three months.

In his post, Bowman also stated that he would have to raise a "touch of money" in order to change the liquor license and make some minor alterations to the eatery and planned to initiate a "kickstarter project" in order to do so.

But on Friday, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t need such a project because the expenses referred to in his post are less than he expected.

"It’s on hold," Bowman said, referring to the kickstarter project.

Brix opened on West Street in July 2005. It was the first Pittsfield establishment to receive one of the city’s nine new liquor licenses that were approved by then-Gov. Mitt Romney earlier that year.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow