Category Archives: Owned and Operated

Featured spaces that are queer owned and operated.

Paris: A Tiny Tour of Boot Cafe

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It’s been really lousy in New York (and anywhere north of Washington) for the last few weeks and I figured I could brighten your day with a cyber jaunt to Paris for some pour-over coffee at Boot Cafe!

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I didn’t discover Boot Cafe. Everyone has scooped it, I mean everyone. The New York Times and Vogue have blown its tiny cover. You can’t but help feel like you’ve discovered a well-kept secret. That might be attributed to the size of the cafe, it’s probably standing room 10 people and even that would be a tight fit.

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It’s a departure form the lofty co-working spaces coffee shops have adapted in the last decade. What it lacks in physical real estate it makes up for in balls-out personal charm. The walls are layered in photographs, art objects, and postcards. It has a distinctly American vibe thanks to killer take-away coffee and the nearly all-English speaking Baristas.

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Located in a distinctly queer and not so newly bourgeoisie neck of the woods called the Marais, this miniature wonderland is an ideal spot for a tourist or local to hang their hat. The French signage from the original shoe repair shop is a beautiful shade of pale blue and as you enter the double doors your welcomed with all white subway tilling, three tiny marble tables and a tidy server station which looks like the best coffee shop job this side of the river.

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The vibrant green plastic stools that look like stumps are Arnold Circus Stools and are sourced from a shop in London by designer Martino Gamper. They are so chic and I am obsessed with them.

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Along narrow black shelves are perched bottles of water for the taking, bags of coffee beans, and treasures for purchase from nearby and faraway. When I stopped in they were selling Echo Park Pottery Mugs by Peter Shire Studio from the US.

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After taking some pictures and caffeinating I sat down and talked shop with a local regular, cutie Frank Adrian who brought by a homemade lemon cake that was divine (sidebar: he’s got a killer Instagram- follow @cakeboyparis). The small interior invites conversation the same way a cozy living room might.

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I can’t stress enough how generally lousy the take-away coffee game is in Paris, but Boot Cafe is one of the few exceptions and give you that boost a city for walking always needs. Go there when you are visiting Paris, or close your eyes real tight, ignore the buzzing of your electric heater and go there right now in a daydream. Isn’t it rad!? I know!

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THE GET THERE: Unsolicited Advice to a Freelancer

Credit: Michael Popp Studio
Credit: Michael Popp Studio

I haven’t done a post in a while and I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned in the last 10 years in New York. Seeing everyone “get there” in business or personal life is something that starts to happen when you hit 30 in New York. Either folks are having babies and buying houses or peers start to find a niche for themselves professionally.

Recently, out to coffee with my friends I’ve noticed all are in varying stages of either realizing or investing in their own professional success in non-profit sectors and freelance capacities. Some are expanding their businesses, some are starting new bigger/hairier projects and some are packing-up and heading west. My own philosophy for a long time was to find money. I took every gig under the sun and that nomadic freelance lifestyle always paid, sometimes not with actual dollars, but always with a lesson or a scar. That philosophy has served me for as long as it could. I have survived in New York and now I gotta get there.

Below are 3 things that continue to work for me and that I learned from folks further down the road than myself.  Some or none of these will apply to your experience.

1. Ask for what you want

This is something I learned from my parents and something I really take for granted. Everyone has goals they’ve either sketched out on a map or keep tucked away til’ something magical happens. You can’t bank on that magic and often times the map you’ve laid out doesn’t include the whole picture. The conventional ways modeled for creative people “getting there” haven’t proven useful to me. The way I’ve gotten to a fair majority of my professional success is by asking people for exactly what I want and working backwards. The truth is that people want to help other people and it’s made a whole lot easier if the people in charge have a full understanding of what you want.

2. Better done than perfect

There are jobs where things have to be perfect. Doctors, judges, architects all require a monastic commitment to details and perfection. Luckily the jobs I’m good at don’t. I work in interior design editorial, fundraising, events, styling and other creative industries and I know we aren’t saving lives, we’re making things pretty. There are tons of logistics and attention to detail and those moving pieces are very important, but not science. The personal experience someone has is the only part of the job that should be perfect; the getting there doesn’t have to be.

3. You are doing it wrong

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I’ve messed up on projects or left things uncompleted and had to experience the consequences. It’s in those hair-raisingly awkward interactions or dramatic emails that you learn the most. You have to do it wrong. I learned way more from my slip ups than I did from my successes. The caveat here is that you want to be doing wrong less and less of the time.

What are the tools you use to “get there”?

Where these tips useful? irritating? Comment below

ASIDE: It’s Spring which means open garage times at Atelier Roquette

Red Hook brags one of the sweetest event spaces around, Atelier Roquette. Here is a #ThrowbackThursday shot of our time their with Kristen Blush last Spring! Book them for your fab shower, intimate wedding or for a creative project!

credit: Kristen Blush
credit: Kristen Blush

A Throwback to our FIRST ISSUE: ED ROTH (STENCIL 1)

EDROTHIn honor of the spring refresh we’re doing on the site I thought it would be neat to post this look from our 2012 prototype issue. We built it on ISSU.com and Colleen and I spent the launch day drinking coffee and cursing at her desktop making sure everything was just so. This shot is of Ed Roth and his right-hand lady who had just stenciled the big bear with chalk paint for our fundraising party in Brooklyn. He was a big shot then and now he’s basically a famous person. He recently won Product of the Year 2015 for new line of stencil wallpaper. He’s got you covered  from wallpaper to crafts to textiles, all highly versatile and  reusable featured in his books published by Chronicle Books. 

PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL POPP STUDIO

Our Fall Favorites! Q.I Creator and Founder Plays Krrb.com Currator

featuredI’m a big believer as a renter in NYC that reclaiming or inheriting odds and ends is a better and kinder way to populate your space. Krrb.com is the perfect place to do just that. They’ve honored me with the task of picking some of my favorite Krrb finds for Fall and I hunted down some really lovely (and equally strange) objects on the shop by stoop home sales website. Krrb is easy to use and I’ve had a blast selling and buying on it myself. Anyone can build a “corner” where they list home decor, furniture, or homemade wares for sale. You can easily post and edit pictures or information about the object and tag key words. The site helps you search by zip code and category and it’s a real blast to find out what’s near by.  Look for The Queer Interior and my 20 selections on their newsletter and website today! Here are my top 5 and why I picked’em!

1. Table to the rescue: A small space hero.

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As featured on Remodelista and AllModern.com. This Hunter Green Blue Dot Strut Table is an awesome use of space. It’s highly functional as a desk or dinning room table. It’s the perfect freelancer find and if you’ve got a neutral space the green is going to be a really great contrast color.

2. Sleek adustable coffee table

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You can custom this no-frills coffee table to fit your room and what we’re wondering is if James will throw in the coffee tables books. Tom Ford and Marilyn? We’ll take it!

3. Fire engine red toolbox #butchcity

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Looking to ironically store toilet paper or have legit tools to store? Then you should buy this awesome tool box! I think it’s really sexy and sleek and if I had more than a hammer and bad attitude about home repair I’d buy it. in. a. heartbeat.

4. Himmeli Light makes a corner special for less than $200 bucks.

hanginglightOne of a kind hanging light treatments would be great in a dorm or home office. Loving the shape and price point, run don’t walk.

5. Um. This crazy skull madness is rad.

skullWhen I think about what’s great for Fall gourds and painted leaves are not my first thoughts. This Swarovski covered animal skull, now this, this is autumnal. I want it on my dining table or coffee table, really anywhere someone can see it.

*Big Thanks to Krrb.com for letting us play!

Detroit Rose Rises; A Giveaway and Q&A with Deirdre Skiles #queercrush

We’ve got a crush on a candle. Detroit Rose Candle Co. is our newest obsession. Ranging from super butch jars like LEATHER to outlandish and fun scents like GIN FIZ; we’re loving this fledgling candle company’s first season of scents. We’ve seen a lot of American craft and entrepreneurship happening in Detroit and the number of New York expats making the commute.  A creative at heart Deirdre Skiles who sought out the city to play host to a writing retreat ended up discovering the tactile career of candle creation. We got the low down on her own journey to her Eastern Market home,  the scents she’s playing with and the future of her new company.

*Giveaway alert! As a special End-Of-Summer promotion Detroit Rose will be gifting 3 of her original candles to a lucky winner. It’s easy! Keep reading to find out how you can win and watch on Facebook! #queercrush #detroitrosecandleco

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How did you end up in Detroit? When did you start Detroit Rose?

Detroit Rose Candle Co. was created in August 2013.  I was living in New York at the time and came to Detroit to do some research for a book I was (am still) writing. A friend took me to this really enchanting area of town called Eastern Market where vendors sell produce, plants and art and I kind of fell in love with the place. It was this dense part of the city that was so full of life and I wanted to be a part of it. I had just made a batch of candles to give as gifts and thought “I could sell these here, that would amazing to just sit at the market and interact with people and take the world in from that perspective”.  A month later I was selling soy candles I’d poured in found mason jars at the market. I actually live in an old loft space in Eastern Market now and all production is out of my kitchen.

 

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Have you always bleather copyeen crafty? When did you first learn the process of creating scents and making candles?

2.     Crafty?  Yes. More or less. I think I just like to make things, be creative, experiment.  Playing with scents and oils is something I picked up in the process of candle making.  Sometimes it goes all wrong, but sometimes you make something magical. Scent is such a visceral thing. It can really transport you to a memory or time in your life. I like the idea that I’m making these little jars that take someone back to a time in their life they want to remember or something that helps them to find calm when they need it.

Which candles are your your favorite and best sellers?

Top Sellers … Taos Sage, Pipe Tobacco, Lavender Love & Bergamot. Everyone loves Bergamot. Seriously, I dare you to find a human who doesn’t respond positively to that scent.  My favorite to burn is Pipe Tobacco.  It’s this perfect blend of cherry, wood & smoke. I’m obsessed.


Where can I buy these delicious candles?

You can find Detroit Rose candles at Willys (Shinola’s new store in Detroit).  El Dorado General Store (this badass vintage store in Corktown). My Etsy. And in September you can buy them at the Detroit Built Pop Up at the Michele Varian Boutique in Soho.

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*Giveaway alert! End-Of-Summer Promotion:
Detroit Rose will be gifting 3 of their original candles to a lucky winner.
It’s easy to enter:
1. LIKE Detroit Rose & The Queer Interior on Facebook
2. Post this feature to your own page and hashtag:
#queercrush #detroitrosecandleco
3. We’ll announce the winner on September 1st which means you’ve got from today (the 19th) til’ then to enter.

 

Boss Bird Makes A Nest Upstairs, Nekisia Davis on her Apartment Renovation

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Early Bird Granola is an established granola brand proudly built by the hard working and lovely Nekisia Davis. Maybe it’s her southern sensibilities or her die-hard love for a coast, but her brand and home have found a comfortable corner in friendly Red Hook Brooklyn to call home. She worked wonders converting a 1200 square foot office space above her commercial kitchen by maximizing the room with an open floor plan.  The exposed beam supports, fire engine red functioning sprinklers, and a mad pink wall are brave and awesome choices.

The Queer Interior team styled out a corner of Nekisia’s apartment in pieces and accessories from A&G Merch, a furniture store in Williamsburg Brooklyn, to help us imagine how her newly renovated space would play host to actual furniture. We were there on an afternoon that some of her team were finishing up work on the windows and kitchen. I was happy to indulge superstition and smudge the space with sage, making sure to reach every corner.

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The Queer Interior: What was your biggest challenge during the renovation?

Nekisia Davis: The biggest challenge was definitely waiting to see the final. I’m an I-want-it-now kind of girl, so it was torture. Veruca Salt-style but way less demanding and bratty.

Q.I: Do you have a favorite addition from the renovating?

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N.D: It’s the commercial stove we put in. My contractor said it’s an insane stove for residential and I pushed to keep it, so they had to built a concrete sleeve around it covered in stainless steel to keep the heat in so it won’t light my cabinets and entire kitchen on fire. WORTH IT.

We used a lot of IKEA, which I actually always do (which surprises people). You have to go in there with a good eye. Also we fetched some barn wood from upstate for all the shelving, and stole some rad knobs for the kitchen from our designer Di Needham. She kept us sane during the whole process. Renovation is no joke, and I’m very aware that ours was a miniscule project in the grand scheme.

Q.I:  You lucked into the amazing quality of these floors. What’s their story?

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N.D: The floors were original and we had no idea they were even under there until we started knocking down walls. We had new floors spec’d out and those were beautiful as well, but I’m so happy to be able to reuse what came with the building. And they definitely tell a story, there are random nails all over that have sunk deep into the wood, areas where the coloring varies dramatically…these floors were WORKED on back in the day and I love seeing the story there.

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Q.I: What were your style inspirations for the renovation? Was there any one thing you had to have?

N.D: My style inspiration was a combination of COLOR, Los Angeles, and Blance Devereaux’s bedroom. I’m not sure that the result points specifically to any of those, but that’s where my head was.

Q.I: Is it so weird to live above your commercial kitchen? Has it changed your relationship with the business you run?

N.D: It is SO LOVELY to live right above work. I stumble downstairs in some acceptable version of pyjamas with a cup of coffee in the mornings and am very lucky to be able to do that. On the other hand, I occasionally stumble down late night (different kind of stumbling this time) to steal some ricotta or yogurt from the walk-in (shout out Salvatore Bklyn and White Moustache yogurt, my small batch partners in crime), and might run into someone doing midnight yogurt production. I am sometimes fully clothed, sometimes not.

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*Our Style Inspiration Corner made possible by A&G Merch was so rad. Check out their site to purchase!

It was awesome to style out the corner with help from the talented folks at A&G Merch and they’re shop and sponsorship made this feature possible. Here are the links to all the lovely small and large moving pieces of our inspiration corner made even more inspiring by Nekisia’s pink wall! –

Teal Stool Paper Mache BirdEmbroidered Fox Pillow

Carmichael Chair Domino Reader Side-table shoplookThat fox pillow is adorable!

King of Pops; Q&A w/ King Leche Owner Walter Youngblood

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Walter stamping the King Leche Logo onto bar wrappers in his kitchen space

It’s summer which means outdoor movies and ice cold treats! We caught up with Walter Youngblood the proud owner and maker of the addictive  King Leche Cremes. These outlandish goat milk popsicles made from fresh and seasonal ingredients are for sale each Tuesday at the outdoor movies hosted by Red Hook Flicks and a slew of awesome sponsors. Mark your calendars to enjoy the movie and have a bite because this coming Tuesday the 5th they’ll be projecting Paris Is Burning (, 1990)! The film is about the drag and ball scene in the late 1980s and it’s everything, so get into it. Look forward to a breathtaking view of Lady Liberty, a sweet treat, and a super queer cult classic!

When did you start hand-crafting these treats?

This is my third season producing KINGLeche Creme Bars. I started producing the bars, named after my dog (King) and cat (Leche).

You use goats milk. Have you always steered clear of cow’s milk? Besides the deliciousness what is the advantage? 

I use goat milk because I am lactose intolerant and I wanted to find a way to enjoy ice cream. Goat milk has the most similar lacrosse sugars to human milk making it more digestible for most people especially those with lactose issues. Also goat milk is consumed more globally than cow’s milk and is better for the environment.  It takes far less resources to farm goats than cows. Goat milk is lower in fat than cows milk and is just overall better for humans.
Part of my inspiration came from working at Lower East Side’s WD~50, where I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some incredibly talented chefs like Wylie Dufresne, Sam Mason, Alex Stupak, Christina Tosi, and Malcolm Livingston. I got an invaluable education!

Where can I buy them?

The bars can be bought in a variety of places, The Good Fork in Red Hook, Hops and Hocks in Bushwick, the Bushwick Food Coop , and presently I’m working on getting a few more accounts.

What’s your favorite bar? Is there a big seller that’s made waves?

I do have a favorite bar. That would be Rah’s Blushing Grasshopper. The bar was inspired by someone very special. The bar is a spinach and strawberry combination and is lovely to look at and delicious. It also happens to be my best seller this summer.

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The yummy Rah’s Blushing Grasshopper (spinach and strawberry!)

What’s next for King Leche?
In the future I would like to have a storefront and kitchen that I work out of independently and I’m also planning to move into other goat milk products like soaps and lotions.

Warehouse Weddings in Waterfront Red Hook

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The Queer Interior had a wedding insiders peek at event space and wedding venue Atelier Roquette owned by two of the Queens of Red Hook. Kristen Blush and I scored some stunning and romantic shots that we’re thrilled to share as part of our May-long celebration of all things wedding! Chef Monica Byrne and Leisah Swenson have been together 10 years, the two aren’t married, but they’ve been the helping hand in more weddings than you’ll ever have the chance to attend.

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They co-own and operate café, wine bar and cozy brunch hang HomeMade on what is arguably one of the most important corners of Vanbrunt Street in foodie’s paradise Red Hook ,Brooklyn.  Their attraction to special occasions is obvious. Monica’s food is personal and comfort oriented, that perfect combination means everyone wants to have their shower or celebration in teeny-tiny Homemade. This led the two ambitious ladies to nearby Commerce Street where they’ve outfitted a garage into a lofty white-walled event space called Atelier Roquette with their in-house catering as definitive perk. 

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We had the exciting opportunity to shoot around The Little Flower School co-owned by Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Camille. Their work has been featured in Domino, Vogue, Martha Stewart and many more. Seeing all the eager up and coming flower folks wearing stunning flower hair pieces with scissors or pad in hand was inspiring. While Sarah and Nicolette encouraged a break from arranging and took questions; Kristen Blush and I got to work capturing images of this lofty and multipurpose space.

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The moody view of dusk through the two giant skylights and rows of flowers made the space feel like heaven’s waiting room. All the furniture is hand picked by Monica or Leisah and some of the pieces including the tall stool and wire baskets are for sale.

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The industrial farmhouse feel with steel and wire accents, old luggage and one-of-a-kinds find make this raw space come to life. These two have an eye and every piece has a story.

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The space hosts everything from tastings to markets and the flower school made it’s home there for a long weekend and was a perfect place for students to create, dine, and collaborate.

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Every work station made for a still-life shot that Kristen Blush was able to capture as the sun set on a long day of flower styling.

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The two are planning their own wedding in the space for this coming October. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do with it!

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If you’d like to know more about having a party or celebration at Atelier Roquette head to their website and input your party size and details here: www.atelierroquette.com

To learn more about The Little Flower school visit their site here: www.littleflowerschoolbrooklyn.com

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A Division of Conscious and Casual

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Williamsburg’s Urban Rustic is more than meets the eye. One of the passionate owners (and downright famous people, a member of the pioneering queercore band Pansy Division out of California ) Luis Illades gave The Queer Interior team a look at his charming, and yes rustic, café. At our first sit down, post one of the many snow storms last month, Luis described the space’s aesthetics lovingly as a “toothless hillbilly,” and he’s spot on. The renegade spirit of what he and his co-partners describe as their crucial partnership with local purveyors is part of what sets his hand-built market/café apart from the shiny new additions to this corner of Brooklyn.

He makes up a team of musicians and filmmakers turned co-owners who are each passionate (not snobby) about local food and their footprint on our city.  Getting past the hype and to the veggies is an obvious part of this  business’ larger mission. We chatted with Luis about upstate wood (wink), brand building, and spring water and we really dug hanging out with a doer not a talker about what matters to him. #easyontheeyes #goteam

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Luis Illades smiles from a custom ladder used to stock organic groceries.

Q.I.: The name Urban Rustic aptly describes your cafe. Elaborate on how the spaces name is reflected in its design elements.

Luis Illades: One of my partners, Aaron Woolf, had been living up in the Adirondacks and had become really interested in the idea of bringing an element of the small markets, farmer’s markets and lodges/pie stands down to Brooklyn where he had spent a lot of time and opened another restaurant Lodge, with our partner Daniel Cipriani.  A lot of the design and look of the place is based around the milled wood from his land up north. The artwork on our walls is definitely not worth much or particularly of note other than to us it says, “this is our cozy little home/hangout and we’d like you to come in and spend some time.” We try to keep the lighting dim and comforting and the wallpaper was shaded to bring in an element of well-worn space.

The back of our shop is a place where you feel like you can relax and stay for awhile, read a book or catch up with a friend, even though the front screams hustle and bustle of people running around a metropolitan city yet wanting to take with them a well thought out, nourishing meal with house baked bread, house roasted meats, and naturally sourced ingredients.

Q.I: The wood was sourced from a farm in upstate New York.Tell us more about the day up there salvaging these unwanted trees.

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L.I.: Aaron was finishing building his house and had some older trees that had to be cleared for their own good. A lot of people who live in wooded areas will definitely mill the wood they are clearing and make use of it in building an extra shed or add something on to their house or workspace.  Since we were working on this idea of opening a shop in Brooklyn, it seemed only a natural fit.  Our partner Dan, has an extensive background in building sets for advertising and film and his mind is constantly buzzing with ideas, breaking apart walls and rebuilding and refurbishing surfaces in his mind while you just walked in and noticed the ceiling.

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The week that we were up there was really fun, we cut, stacked, milled, sawed and drove the wood back down on a flatbed truck. The house up there was still half finished, so we were bathing outdoors under a tree and eating foods from the local farmer stands, it really was fun and as peaceful as you could hope for.  I was really into whatever book I was reading at the time and was in the cabin deep in it, all of a sudden I heard some strange musical noise outside and peeked out to hear Dan and Aaron half into a case of beer singing in the woods with an acoustic guitar.  A good weekend start to the shop if you ask me!

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Q.I.: Urban Rustic is more than a cafe. You’ve got tons of personal touches like your own granola, your own chocolate, even your own water! Tell us why branching in this way is important to you and your brand.

L.I.: Part of it may be branding and working to make our name recognizable and associated with products we love making and stand behind. When we envisioned this business we wanted to make it a point to make as much as possible in house.  We bake the breads everyday; we source the cuts of meats and roast them in house. You should be able to taste the underlying flavors of the herbs rubbed into the meats and see the colors in the roasts, rather than think about how Boar’s Head (for example) sure are genius at making their assembly line products look almost real.  We like baking granolas and cookies and weird maple bars and talking about them. It’s who we are.  Although we developed into a very fast paced, high volume epicenter, we still prepare everything with real thought and concern as if it were for one person.

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The water came into play while trying to find a more reputable and local source of bottling.  Everything I was seeing in shops around here had a “Nestle” in small print on the label and as much as I’m not above eating a Nestle Crunch bar from time to time, I was always shocked at their water rights usage issues.  Beyond making a statement about that, it’s like anything else in the shop, trying to go for local sourcing as much as possible and find small business people that we like dealing with. This guy Mark bottles from a spring upstate and drives them down weekly himself in his truck.  I know his name and his life and we talk about his kids when he makes deliveries.  That to me is exactly the type of providers we were setting out to work with. A dude in a truck named Mark, ya know?

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Q.I.: In what ways is owning cafe the same as being in a band? Are there similarities? Did that background of dealing with personalities, making compromises and working together impact your role as owner at the cafe? Wait, was that like 5 questions?

L.I.: Dan and I both played in bands and Aaron has worked as documentary filmmaker for years.  We all definitely came to this with a DIY aesthetic and work ethic.  We’re mostly the type of people who find it easier to do things ourselves rather than ask others to do things for us, much to our detriment sometimes.  I think that we also like to talk about what we do and how we do things on our terms in our language.  This idea of farm to table, local sourcing, and cottage food industry has been taken over by buzzwords, social media strategizing, and trend hopping. Although we believe in what we’re doing strongly, it has to be on a very personal level in our words stemming from our experience and ideas, nothing else works for us.  I think that’s the best way that you can compare it to playing in bands or making films.

Q.I.: We love the relaxed vibe and all the options at your cafe! (2-dollar beer!) What’s next for Urban Rustic? 

view_urbanrusticL.I.: It has to be!  Although dealing with raw materials from the local providers that we use (Battenkill CreameryMurray’s Cheese shopBrooklyn BrineDeBragga free range chickensDiPaolo Turkey etc.) can be more expensive, we find it CRUCIAL to not alienate people based on their income.  Our neighborhood has become more affluent in the last few years, but that doesn’t mean that the guys across the street who have been playing handball on those courts for a decade can’t come in and buy a meal or a beer without caring about the sourcing and still be able to afford it.

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You order at the counter and get a table marker that is often a queer celeb like Madonna or Margaret Cho

Part of the small general store feel should definitely be a barrel full of cans of beer on ice with a sign that says, “2 bucks, come and get it”

We have several feelers out for a second location as well as our continued partnerships with music venue The Bell House in Gowanus, event space The Wick in Bushwick, and there are talks of a beach location in the Rockaways this summer. Cross your fingers for us, it going to get a little crazy!

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A custom bike used for deliveries and pop-ups (shot on a snowy February weekday)