There are many elements that go into the making of a fine food and drink establishment – like just the right menu, drinks with taste and flair, a social environment where everyone feels welcome, some really classy interior design, and although there’s always a party atmosphere, if you want to have a meaningful conversation, you can hear yourself talk.
That’s what partners Rory and Marie Kilfeather and Brian McGroarty have created at Elements Food & Spirits at 161 Mamaroneck Avenue, in White Plains.
When you enter the establishment one of the first things you notice is the 65-foot bar along one side of the room and some interesting tile work and mirrors on the wall behind it. It always seems to be packed and if you get there on a Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. you can socialize with the hard-working teachers of the White Plains school system.
There are multiple seating areas and levels, which is how they manage to create conversation areas and the roof-top bar is a fun hang-out for many, enclosed and open for business all year round.
The partners at Elements hail from Ireland and they bring a cultural tradition of hospitality with them.
Marie, from County Kerry, came to New York in 1998 and soon met Rory, who was from County Donegal. “We lived on opposite sides of Ireland and would never have met, had we not come here,” she said.
Brian’s father owned the most popular pub in all of Donegal, which is where he learned how to work hard, mix with customers to keep informed about what they liked and to make them feel welcome and comfortable.
“I originally worked in construction when I got here,” Brian said. But Rory knew his father and the popularity of the family pub back in Ireland and eventually convinced Brian to join him and Marie at the former James Joyce across Mamaroneck Avenue.
For a short while they operated both Elements and James Joyce together, catering to two different crowds, but the great recession forced them to give up their lease on James Joyce in 2008 and focus their attention on Elements.
Noticing that customers were grazing more on appetizers rather than ordering large meals, Brian and Marie recently upgraded their menu with new additions to the appetizer section and a spin on some of the old favorites.
This has all been made possible by new chef Juan Manuel Reyes, who has designed new menus for establishments from Miami to New York and Connecticut.
“We reduced the price on the appetizers to provide a Happy Hour menu all day long,” explained Marie. There are specialty plates including shrimp ceviche, fried sweet plantains, fried chicken with Cole slaw, baked salmon with a BBQ sauce over Chinese cabbage and pork belly tacos, to name just a few.
Happy Hour drinks include $6 martinis, $5 wine and $3 draft beer from 4 to 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. if you’re being served at the bar.
Elements’ specialties include the White Cosmo made with Ciroc Vodka, Triple Sec, white cranberry juice, lime juice and garnished with fresh cranberries. There’s also an Irish mojito made with whiskey rather than rum, which they tried just for fun one St. Patrick’s Day and it stuck. “People really like it,” Brian said.
Tuesday nights feature jazz with local musicians from 6: 30 to about 9:30 p.m. Michael Friedman is a regular. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere,” Brian notes. “People like to dine and listen to the music.” It’s becoming increasingly popular so if you are thinking of stopping by for dinner, reservations are recommended.
Sunday night features a rock jam from 8 p.m. on. Musicians are invited to join in. A sign up sheet is provided. “It’s mostly classic rock,” Brian explained.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights attract a younger crowd with a late night D.J. spinning the tunes from 11 p.m. to closing.
Secret Sundays (and Wednesday too) cater to an alternative LGBT crowd.
Brunch, featuring menu items from $7 to $13, with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa included, is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday (Elements will be open Easter) and there is a $6 children’s menu with mac and cheese and green eggs and ham and a drink and desert included.
Marie says they can accommodate private parties up to 150 people and have become popular with the Sweet Sixteen party set.
If you haven’t stopped in to Elements yet, a treat awaits you. Be sure to ask for Brian or Marie and they will make you feel right at home. And, you never know who you might meet there. Former president Bill Clinton has been seen on the roof and Doc Severinsen has appeared on jazz nights.
You can follow Elements on Facebook or call 914-358-4930 to find out what’s happening.