Fashion and food have a long standing love affair. Designers like Giorgio Armani and retailers like ABC, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys have restaurants in their stores that are big moneymakers. Now there are some restaurants that are flipping the trend and selling foodie goodies and lifestyle accouterments to further imprint the owners’ taste on you. A visual “you are what you eat” is a shopping trend that’s on the upswing. The experience is really a movable feast. You can take it with you.
The Guild (actually Roman and Williams Guild)opened just over a year ago in an airy corner space on Howard Street. The owners, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the husband and wife partners behind the design firm Roman and Williams, have created a space where you can order what you are eating on, and much more. They partnered with Marie-Aude Rose to open La Mercerie in the front of the store. The chef is the wife of Daniel Rose of Le Coucou fame, and serves breakfast as well as all-day dining with her takes on French classics.
When you walk into the store, you enter through the restaurant. Upon being seated, you are given a food menu, cocktail menu and table ware menu. The last comes with a small blue pencil. If you want the vase, silverware, napkin, or glass, you can tick the box next to the item and take it home with you.
The restaurant bar is in the store. Everything (except the open bottles of liquor and the lemons) is for sale. The merchandise is sourced from artisans around the globe and some of it was designed by the owners.
The space is divided into seating and dining areas. All of them meticulously and artfully flower-filled.
The larger pieces are custom order, but the smaller items can walk out the door with you when you leave.
Small signs are everywhere. They tell you about the artisan and the item. Nothing here is particularly inexpensive, but the good news is that if you do eat here you can dine in great style, using what you might not be able to afford.
Everything for the home is here.
As befits a restaurant/store there is an emphasis on stylish dining. Since the plates, glasses and silverware might be used in the restaurant, it’s all been tested for durability so it will withstand restaurant use.
Beds, pillows and linens are also for sale. A changing “gallery of chairs” is arranged along the wall.
Candlesticks and handmade candles are tucked back in a corner.
You can buy stylishly hand-crafted brooms and other cleaning products, and many wonderful baskets.
The Guild also sells books, many vintage, along with vintage objets. The elevator at the center leads to a private party space downstairs.
Walk through the completely shopable “library” into the atmospheric room at the back. Giving a dinner here feels like entertaining in a very private home.
The swatches for custom orders are displayed as art.
As you go out, stop at the Emily Thompson flower stand. She does the arrangements throughout the store, as well as at Coucou and other shops and restaurants around town. Buy a bouquet, or have the staff design something for you.
Roman and Williams Guild and La Mercerie, 53 Howard Street 212 852-9099
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is located a few blocks away in Noho. It is the second restaurant from Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle. Il Buco was born as an antiques shop and morphed into a restaurant, and Alimentari was conceived as a home for the products they love. It is open for breakfast and coffee in the morning and is a wine bar and restaurant for the remainder of the day.
You can eat here, or buy their food to take away. There are also many house-made and Italian products crafted using traditional methods, as well as artisan provisions for sale.
The tables are placed near the counters and shelves full of bottles and jars of all sorts of yummy things.
There is a good selection of Italian cheeses, meats, pasta, pasta sauces and homemade bread. You can also order panini or antipasti to go. Or get homemade gelato.
You can also buy jams, honey, sauces, syrups, olive oil, salt, spices and more.
Il Buca Vita is located down the street. The building, a civil war era stable,is where Jean-Michel Basquiat lived and worked. He rented the building from Andy Warhol and he created some of his most significant work here.
Basquiat’s Samo graffiti remains in the store. Il Buco Vita was located nearby, but relocated to this space recently. The store sells furniture and objects that the owners discovered in Italy.
There are antiques and new items made by Italian artisans.
Some of the furniture is for sale, and all of the tableware is as well.
Everything has a patina and glows with rustic Italian chic.
You can buy linens for the table, napkins, dishes and silverware, as well as serveware.
The beeswax candles are hand made in Italy. They come in corkscrew shapes, and also in pillars. No two are the same, as they are handmade.
Il Buco Vita offers trivets made from antique tiles, and vintage and new flatware.
The glasses come in many colors, and are handblown. So again, they have subtle differences.
Metal candles sticks and napkin rings are made to fit the different sizes of candles.
Tiny tapers and larger ones will give your table a touch of the Italian countryside. Everything is lovingly made there.
Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, 53 Great Jones Street, 212-837-2622; Li Buco Vita, 57 Great Jones Street
Across town is a funkier English outpost named Tea & Sympathy. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this is a place to cherish if you miss traditional English comfort food. Love a full English breakfast, Heinz baked beans included or an afternoon tea with scones and tea sandwiches or bangers and mash?
The restaurant is small, and decorated with a loving-hands-at-home vibe.
All your favorites are here.
Tea is served in vintage tea pots and unmatched cups and saucers. Cakes and sandwiches get an upgrade with the addition of American-style cup cakes.
Everything is a bit wobbly and lived in. And you really would not want it to change. Tea & Sympathy also owns a London cab that you can rent for any occasion.
Carry On Tea & Sympathy is next door. The boutique carries a good selection of iconic British items and brands.
Teas, tea biscuits, tea pots and tea cozies, cups and mugs are all for sale.
The shop has a nice selection of vintage cups and saucers. If you don’t want one of a kind vintage pieces, try floral and Brit-themed new pieces.
British candies, snacks, chips, biscuits, jams, mustard, beans, chutneys, Bovril and other condiments line the shelves. Carry On sells Heinz canned spaghetti, mushy peas and canned treacle. If you want to feel like you are in England for a few hours, you ought to visit this British outpost.
Tea & Sympathy, 108 Greenwich Avenue, 212 807-8329
Carry on Tea & Sympathy, 110 Greenwich Avenue
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.