Written By: Viktoriya Rystsova
Written on 11/28/2016
As I walked down 39th Street in Murray Hill, I noticed the red Shakespeare sign on my right that led me towards a discrete ramp which guided me to a mysterious and almost hidden entrance. Confused, I looked at the closed old-fashion door and its accompanying doorbell. I wondered, should I ring the bell or just enter? After hesitating for a second, I walked into a dimly lit foyer which was surrounded by two cozy rooms and a staircase. I decided to turn right and slowly walk up to the long wooden bar.
Almost immediately, I was greeted by the bartender who offered me a glass of water while I waited for the owner, Jason Hick. After speaking to the bartender, I was greeted by Jason with a large smile and a handshake. He led me to the cozy Abingdon dining room where we sat down to talk all about Shakespeare.
Before sitting down, I complimented the atmosphere of the room. I felt as if I was in a cozy family dining room as opposed to a restaurant. Being it was only 3:30 pm, the room was empty for me to notice all its details.
Right away he began to tell me that he wanted to bring the feel of his hometown to the restaurant. Jason’s hometown in the UK, Stratford-upon-Avon, was where Shakespeare himself grew up.
In this way, I felt that he organically brought the culture and atmosphere of England to this New York City location.
When asked how he would best describe the establishment, he looked around the room and smiled, then followed up with the word “unique.” He then added how welcoming, laid back and casual The Shakespeare really is.
How would you best describe your establishment?
It’s also family oriented and friendly, so it’s more of a pub rather than a bar, where people can listen to each other and have conversations. The unique atmosphere with its many pictures covering the walls brings a British feel to one different spot in NY. You have to visit The Shakespeare to understand the feeling it brings you.
What is your overall role?
Besides, managing the restaurants, the Chef. I am up and at the restaurant by 6 am to prepare and make sure everything is clean and ready for the rest of the day, so I’m very focused on the food throughout the day.
This location is very cool, what inspired you?
From growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom. I wanted to embody the English tradition with this restaurant.
This restaurant looks like it’s been here for awhile, how long has this location been open?
We opened just three years ago.
There are a lot of bars in the area, how does this venue differentiate from others?
The servers here actually know everything about the meals and drinks on the menu. You can have a conversation with them since they are very educated on the food. Plus to match the intimate setting, one of the unique features available is a funky doorbell on the wall you can push to get the attention of a server. Immediately a server is alerted, and within about 2–5 minutes someone will beckon to your call. Otherwise, they don’t bother you. We also offer alcoholic sodas that low on alcohol so they are perfect for work related meetings, so you can sip on a beverage and not worry about getting drunk at the end of it. Also, we have a room designated for small party reservations in which you receive complete privacy, food served through a little window.
You just threw a Halloween party, what other types of events do you host?
Many different events, besides Sunday Brunch every week, there are holiday events like the Halloween event we just had and the Masquerade Ball which is coming up on December 3rd.
Do you have any signature drinks?
There is a rotating menu of food and drinks, so it is constantly changing yet many popular ones are The Gold Rush and the Cask Ales. The bartenders are very skilled at what they do and mix many unique cocktails.
Usually at restaurants there is a popular dish do you have something that someone must have off your food menu?
The rotating menu always offers many different England-inspired meals.
What are the top five things about your venue from your perspective?
The diversity of the people and atmosphere.The quality of the food, since there is a rotating menu, we make sure the food is perfectly prepared. Our patio. The Raines Law Room upstairs, which brings you two completely different vibes. Lastly, the uniqueness and attention to detail of the British decor.
At Hagtap we love a good happy hour, when are your happy hours?
Everyday, 4:00–7 pm, and a late night happy hour at 11:00 pm — 1 am, where all draught beers are $5 and select house wines by the glass are $6.
What are your most popular nights?
Wednesday through Friday are very popular nights, but Saturday nights are most crowded and fun.
What kind of crowd does this venue attract?
Family oriented during the weekdays but overall a very mixed crowd, and a younger crowd on the weekends.