Welcome to House Style, wherein Grub Street introduces you to the people who work at New York's scene-iest restaurants. First up: the staff at the Fat Radish. When the restaurant opened nine months ago, it was an instant hit, thanks in large part to the A-list parties being thrown by owners Ben Towill and Phil Winser, who also own events company Silkstone. But even though the restaurant's down-home, vegivore-friendly name might seem at odds with the the tucked-away Orchard Street location and fashion-forward clientele, the place has managed to keep its buzz going. The casual, comfortable vibe of the place and the admittedly attractive staff no doubt plays a part in keeping people coming back, ensuring that the dining room remains packed. So, what does it take to make sure the restaurant keeps feeling fresh?
The Fat Radish Gang
Phil Winser (left) and Ben Towill, Owners
You two kind of have a similar look going on.
Ben: You can do such an array of things in a restaurant day-to-day, so you want to be smart, but comfortable.
Phil: It fits into the clientele. No one comes in here in a suit and tie. That’s the whole feeling of the place ... We have young kids who live around to older couples who come in to eat. Forward-thinking people of all ages come here like it’s their home. Anyone from the designer of a cool tailor shop to young hoteliers — it’s a whole array. People tend to be creative, forward thinking, and like good food in an atmosphere that’s not pretentious.
Jamie DuMont, Events Director for Silkstone
How are Silkstone and the restaurant tied together?
I think the whole aesthetic of the company is it’s relaxed, it’s chic, it’s contemporary, but with elements that come from different time and space and generations. I feel like we do have a specific look, and I think it’s very classic and it’s very comfortable.
What about those white jeans – only after Memorial Day?
Absolutely. I do follow that crazy rule and I’m very strict about it. Some people think I’m silly. Some people say it doesn’t matter anymore, but I don’t know; I think that’s a rule that’s always made sense.
Is it hard to keep them clean?
[Laughs.] That’s the dry cleaner’s problem.
Robyn Kerr, Reservationist (left), and Dave Quon, Café/Boutique manager
Tell us a little bit about the clientele.
Dave: We're right in the middle of Chinatown, yet if you go up Orchard two or three blocks, it gets a lot more populated. There are a lot of galleries and artists, so I think that naturally it kind of attracts people in that vein.
Robyn: People that work here are artistic outside of here as well.
Dave: Yeah, there are a lot of people here who are musicians or actors; Ben and Phil really promote that.
From Left: Servers Ana Velazquez, Slavica Dragojevic, and Daryl Nuhn; Hostess Elsa Bloedon
How would you guys describe the space?
Daryl: I think it’s like someone who doesn’t know how cool it is. I think that’s what people in New York try to do: have their little secret, where they know they’re really cool, but they’re not trying to act like it. This place has its own style, it’s kind of beat-up ... there are weird things on the walls, but it’s not trying to be; it just is.
Everyone working here is so attractive ... Is there any pressure to be stylish?
Ana: It’s all about comfort and it’s super-casual, which I really like.
Slavica: What I really like about the style here is they give us a lot of freedom. They tell us about the uniform, but we’re still really free.
Daryl: We’re all very different personalities. I wear the same necklace and the same shoes and the same jeans, every day; that’s just my uniform. Ana always wears really cute Nikes, colorful ones. Everybody’s different and we all just happen to go well together.
Sae Joong Suh, Bartender
How do you think the restaurant fits into the neighborhood?
I would say if I was walking through this neighborhood, I’d be very surprised to see this place, but it’s a really, really nice surprise.
From Left: Office Manager Caroline Sheahan, General Manager Steven Bustos, and Executive Chef Nicholas Wilber
How would you describe your clientele's style?
Caroline: It’s funny, because I read all the pieces online about the fashionable clientele. It’s very true. I saw a woman in here who was straight out of the eighties. We have a lot of great PR companies that send a lot of their clients here, and a lot of that happens to be fashion industry. So it seems like somebody has some sort of tie. It’s fun to come down here and peek at what everybody’s wearing.
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