Rev. David Ciancio, a burger connoisseur who helped mastermind the victory of "The Great Food Truck Race" winners, told Niteside last night that he's putting his skills to the test with his first foray into nightlife: an East Village rock ’n roll speakeasy called Idle Hands.
In the dark, woody basement of the bar at 25 Avenue B, "The Rev" shared his vision between commercials at the Sunday night viewing party of Tyler Florence's "The Great Food Truck Race" season finale -- his clients, the heavy metal-themed burger truck Grill ‘Em All, won the $50,000 prize.
“The concept [Rob Morton, Marc Schapiro and I] wanted to do here was a rock and roll speakeasy,” he said. “Craft beers, specialty bourbon, classic cocktails and shots. ... None of the entrances are marked. It makes you feel a little illegal, maybe you shouldn’t be there.”
A grungy guy with a sleeve tattoo and a baseball cap, The Rev has built a name for himself among burger kings: he is writer of the popular burgerconquest.com; designed his very own burger at Black Shack (the Mayhem Burger with “fresh mozz,” bacon and onion); and was the mastermind behind Grill ‘Em All’s unexpected but sweeping win against the leading Nom Nom Truck.
But for the longest time, he said, he really wanted to open a bar.
“When I was 16 my father put the idea of owning a bar in my head,” he said,” And it was the thing we talked about all the time, the bar we were going to own. But my dad passed away in ’99, and we never opened a bar. ... I made a promise to myself.”
There are no burgers at Idle Hands, but do expect parties. The spot has already secured a gig as one of the three venues hosting Prohibition era-themed parties as a promotion for HBO’s new "Boardwalk Empire" along with exclusive spots The Eldridge and Apotheke Thursday nights.
Nightlife may be a new, daunting venture, but the man is a master at PR. A self-proclaimed “Facebook junkie,” his compulsive internet addiction gave the Grill “Em All truck a push in their final race in New York City to make $500 in each borough in a weekend by getting the word out with press releases, e-mail chains and social media.
“We [used] literally every trick in the book,” the Rev said. “We’re posting on Twitter, we’re posting on Facebook. For two days, that’s all that came out of my mouth. Grill ‘Em All Truck, Grill ‘Em All Truck, Grill ‘Em All Truck.”
And yes, he is really a reverend.
“I got ordained in Jan. 22 in 1997,” he said. “I have done eight weddings since.”