Bryant Postell, co-owner and managing partner of Prime 39 in Lynbrook, isn’t your typical restaurateur.
Postell, 49, didn’t go to culinary school or bounce from restaurant to restaurant in search of his next job.
“My partners and I had been planning and promoting events at bars and clubs since the 1990s,” he says. “We decided it was time to do something on our own,” explains Postell, who was raised in Brooklyn and worked in sales and marketing at Verizon for nearly 20 years.
The partners’ plan came to fruition just about two years ago when Postell and his three partners secured a venue in Lynbrook on Atlantic Avenue. At first, Postell admits, they just wanted to open a bar/lounge.
“The restaurant or resto-lounge hybrid came about because we decided to just take a chance and the idea morphed into opening a restaurant and lounge combo.”
Postell says a chef/consultant was hired to help put a menu together and then following a series of hiccups caused by utilities as well as necessary permits and approvals, Prime 39 opened in December 2020.
Ongoing hurdles, Postell says, include fluctuating food costs and finding ways to not pass those costs on to customers. “We don’t want to price our customers out, so we take the hit on our bottom line,” he says, adding that “we’re still new, we want all our customers to enjoy a good yet affordable meal.”
He says that at the height of Covid, things were difficult as they sometimes had to turn away large groups of reservations as they simply didn’t have the room due to their small space. The restaurant can handle about 40 customers per seating.
But despite the challenges, Postell reports that “things have been doing great ever since.”
The restaurant won an LI Choice Award from PSEG last year for best new restaurant on LI. “Weekends are always packed,” he says, adding that reservations are strongly suggested.
Postell describes the venue as a “sophisticated eclectic, upscale restaurant lounge atmosphere with a Manhattan vibe,” with its brick walls, art deco paintings, and 20-foot backlit bar.
He says some of the venue’s highlights include great prime steaks, creative appetizers, crafted cocktails, and bottle service, as well as a Sunday brunch menu and seafood and vegan offerings.
Special late-night hours also serve as a draw for night owls who don’t want to travel to Manhattan. The restaurant is open until 2 a.m. on weekends with a unique midnight happy hour until 1 a.m.
“We want people to think of us for a date night, to dress up, have a good time, or even for the girls to have their night out,” Postell says.
In the kitchen is Executive Chef Trevor Spaulding who attended Johnson and Wales Culinary School before moving on to various chef stints including Tavern on the Green, B. Smith in Washington, D.C., and the Terrace Club in New York City.
“I love to work with fresh ingredients and herbs,” says Spaulding, whose style of cooking is a mix of French, American, and Italian cuisines.
“I believe that when you cook with love, it shows in the taste of your dish,” he says, adding that he knew he was going to be a professional chef as early as age 6.
Spaulding’s signature dishes include pan-seared pork chops, Southern fried chicken with jalapeno drizzle, plantain-crusted sea bass, barbecued salmon, and, of course, Prime’s 28-day dry-aged steaks including a New York strip, rib-eye, and long-bone cowboy. Unique appetizers include Kobe beef sliders, lollipop lamb chops, and mango shrimp ceviche.
Outside of his role managing Prime 39, Postell also co-founded the Black Restaurant Coalition, a group comprised of Black and minority owners of restaurants, bars and lounges operating throughout New York City and Long Island.
“We started as a group chat to help each other get through Covid,” he says. “We’re now 120 members strong and growing.”
Postell says these business owners formed an alliance to provide insight and support and devise solutions for each other, to overcome the increasing challenges facing them in a post Covid-19 lagging economy.
Moreover, fans of the restaurant have been showing their love on social media.
“Had Sunday brunch, place was nice and elegant,” said Letty Rodriguez Maldonado on the venue’s Facebook page.
“That steak was delicious. It melts right in your mouth. Amazing family-owned business. It’s a must, try the dinner menu.”
Looking forward, Postell says things are going well and that could lead to growth.
“Right now,” he says, “we’re looking to expand. We hope to possibly open a second location soon.”
Prime 39 is located at 39 Atlantic Ave. in Lynbrook. It can be reached at 516-837-3939 or prime39.com.