The past six months have been pretty intense for Brooklyn restaurateur, Ted Mann. He opened two new businesses, Cubana Socíal in Williamsburg and No Name Bar in Greenpoint, and started work on a South Slope beer garden and a Bay Ridge deli, both slated to open this summer. He also discovered that Ted Nugent, yes, that Ted Nugent, is his biological father.
Brooklyn born and raised, the Bay Ridge native has been involved in 11 businesses over the past 13 years. This week, Mann started construction on Gold Coast, a New York style deli on 86th Street and Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, which he says will open by June. He’s also building out a beer garden on 19th Street and Seventh Avenue that he’s hoping to have open by July. The as-of-yet unnamed spot will be able to seat 700-800 in the 10,000 square-foot outdoor garden alone, and another 100-150 in the 3,000-square-foot interior.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there were moments of anxiety,” he says, reflecting on the sheer number of projects he has going right now. With so much going on, it’s remarkable how little he’s been written about in the hypersaturated Brooklyn food media.
The nine places that Mann currently has a hand in (Bar 4, Cebu, Apartment 138, Camp, Matchless, Public Assembly, Lone Wolf, Cubana Socíal and No Name Bar, if you’re counting) have a total of 13 different partners. They all meet up together once a month, with individual meetings on a more regular basis. Michael Esposito has long been his partner in crime at his South Brooklyn businesses; Larry Highland is an owner of Matchless and books at Public Assembly and has been instrumental in bringing Mann into Greenpoint and Williamsburg. And Jessica Wertz, the driving force behind Lone Wolf in Bushwick and No Name Bar (Mann refers to it as 597, but the moniker No Name Bar is going to prove impossible to shake at this point), is one of his newest collaborators. “She has vision,” says Mann.
He notes that being a successful restaurateur is as much about paying the bills on time, hiring the right contractors and knowing which bartender needs a word of encouragement, as it is about cuisine and décor. “At the end of all the bullshit you get to serve food and drinks and play some music for people, and that’s the little piece that you savor,” he says.
Amidst running nine places and opening two more, Mann is adjusting to the new chapter in his family life. In October of last year, the adoption agency that had originally placed him with his mom in Bay Ridge contacted him to let him know that he had a biological sister who was looking for him, along with their father, with whom she had already gotten in touch. Mann spoke on the phone with his sister for the first time on October 26. She explained to him that he had been named after their father, and then revealed to him that their biological parent was, in fact, Ted Nugent. “I was like, ‘The guy who kills everything?” says Mann, laughing. “It’s been overwhelming and awesome and confusing, I’m still acclimating to being a Nugent.”
He spoke to Nugent on the phone the day after talking to his sister for the first time. “We agreed that he’d call me at a certain time and just before I was holding the phone and like, shaking, and then he called up and just said, ‘Hello, son,'” says Mann. Shortly after that he traveled to Nugent’s property in Texas for a visit. “I got to his ranch and he was grilling elk he had shot for me,” he says, with obvious fondness for his newly discovered family. “We ate elk and then we went and shot guns.” Scrolling through photos from the trip on his iPhone, Mann displayed one that looked like a Guns & Ammo still life–the photo shows a gun, a cellphone, extra bullet clips, a red handkerchief, a Leatherman-style utility tool and a variety of other objects spread out on a kitchen countertop. “These are all the things a man should carry in his pockets, according to my dad,” says Mann.
Nugent, who in addition to Mann and his sister has seven other children, had been open with his family about the fact that he had given two children up for adoption earlier in his life. The family talked about Mann and his sisters as lost members of their clan, and the Nugents had always referred to Ted as Fleetwood—the middle name on his birth certificate. “After we talked my dad sent out an email saying, ‘Ok tribe, we have found Fleetwood,’” says Mann. “I got like 17 text messages within the hour welcoming me to the family.”
Mann is planning a trip at the end of March to go hunting with his father in Michigan—his first hunting trip. And, after he opens Gold Coast and the South Slope beer garden this summer, he hopes to get some time off to spend more time with his family. “I have to say, right now, on the forefront of everything is the Nugent family.”