An American Family Affair

Pam Reed is part of the husband-and-wife team behind Humboldt & Jackson, the “American Tasting Room & Event Space” that opened on Independence Day 2014 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Pam and Bill Reed met as high school sweethearts in Philadelphia, and were thrilled to introduce their daughter, Mela, to the family two and a half years ago. It was while walking around with Mela, still in a baby carrier at the time, that they discovered the space that would become their next joint project.

Bill Reed already had a hand in many local and beloved neighbourhood establishments – Calexico, Budin, and most notably his partnership in Brooklyn Star. So it wasn’t a surprise that their new space quickly landed itself on the Brooklyn Hot List. Humboldt & Jackson very purposefully calls itself a tasting room as its ever-changing menus let customers enjoy a culinary road trip through America’s fifty states. Here you can try some of America’s best craft and microbreweries through their rotation of tasting flights, themed events such as bottle exchanges and cask tappings, or at one of Brooklyn Brewery’s monthly dinner parties held at their location. The bar serves wines, also often on tap, from lesser known wine production states (did you know that all fifty states produce wine?) and they have most recently introduced whiskey tastings to the party. You also can keep your palates satiated with shared and small plates of cheese and charcuterie, among guest chefs’ dishes and special nights. I recently had the pleasure of attending the hugely popular kitchen takeover by the famous Roberta's pizza team when the pizzas sold out every night.

Pam, who also has a day job in fashion design and purchasing, created all of Humboldt & Jackson’s logos, menus, and aesthetics for the space and utilizes her design skills in all of the event planning they do for public and private events. The space can be booked for birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers and even weddings (another Mamapreneur I spoke to had such a good experience with their baby shower that they plan to have their one year birthday there as well). Working a day job, being involved in the restaurant industry, and bringing up a toddler is an around the clock job, but Pam has an optimism and excitement about her that makes it look effortless. The most inspiring part of her story is that she and her husband have the non-stop pleasure of working with each other constantly through their collaborations at the bar as well as through parenting their little one. 


Here is my Q&A with Pam:

You guys had always wanted to open a bar or restaurant up - how did you decide on the corner of Humboldt & Jackson?

We were walking Mela around the neighborhood when we passed by a space that used to be called Cozy Royale, a traditional Italian catering hall. We hadn't really paid noticed it before and they happened to have an event that night. It reminded us both of a place we knew growing up in Philly where we used to sneak glasses of wine as teenagers and we decided to pop in to check it out. While we were there, we started chatting to the owner. She told us about her business and how she'd like to eventually move on and was looking for someone to lease the space out. Something just clicked and less than two years later the space was leased, gutted, renovated and open to the public!

You are getting more and more requests for private events in your backroom. How do you see this part of the business growing?

The space is really flexible for all sorts of events, and we are very flexible on what can be brought in and what we will provide – if someone wants to bring in their own chef but needs the the kitchen staff to help with clean up – we can do that. We are still a relatively new space so are very competitive and flexible with pricing and can work with different budgets. We have a list of outside vendors that we can recommend and work with, or people can source the vendors themselves. Planning and designing events is one of my favorite parts of the space and I would love to eventually do it as my full-time job. 

In order to support the family you’ve maintained a full-time day job in fashion. Tell us a little more about what you do “during the day”?

My expertise and experience is in designing trim, closures, clips, and hardware for major accessories brands – I've worked with Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Express, and Under Armour to name a few. It gives me a chance to keep the artist/design side of myself alive and work with different clients with different styles and aesthetics. My design job also gives me the chance to travel – I frequently fly to Europe and China to look at materials and visit factories. It's a lot of fun but it can be tiring and its hard to be away from Mela for one to two weeks at a time. Luckily, when I'm in NYC, my job lets me work from home and that gives me a chance to get a break and catch up with the family. 

On the note of traveling, you nursed and breastfed Mela for one and a half years while taking international business trips to Paris and China. Any advice on breastfeeding and having to travel for work?

Planning is the key! I have become a master at inventory planning! You can go into my fridge and see everything organized by day. I start to pump more regularly ahead of the trip to increase flow and start having inventory built up so that I leave my husband with enough milk for Mela. However, once you get into that routine you need to continue pumping at that pace so that means continuing to pump while on flights – and I've even done it between two sleeping men! And then I have all this milk to bring back with me – usually through security and on the plane which is always an interesting experience having to negotiate with security and securing overhead space! 

You work with your husband, Bill, on projects that take up almost all your night and day – your little daughter as well as a business. How do you make it work?

It is so important that we constantly work as a team. We've been together for so long that we have learned to understand each other and support each other. Because I have a day-job and he is running the bar we are often working on different schedules and different hours. It's very important for us to take time for ourselves and have our own date nights so we can appreciate the time together. We will often book a nanny or plan a weekend where Mela can be taken care of by the grandparents for the whole weekend in Philly – and that gives us some time to spend together and live our lives. It's so important for us to take care of ourselves so we are happy and can take care of her better. 

Finally, if you had 3 tips for other mothers that you wish someone would have told you, what would they be?

  1. Damn, this is hard on so many different levels
  2. Enjoy sleeping when you can. You will never sleep the same again, probably for the rest of your life
  3. Pretty much everything with kids is a phase - so if you are worried about something your baby is doing or not doing, in a few weeks, you'll forget it even happened or didn't happen, even though in the moment, it's all consuming 

Swing by Humboldt & Jackson (434 Humboldt Street, Brooklyn) for your own date night or follow their Facebook page to hear about the next guest chef pop ups and special events.