Thursday, August 19, 2010

We Have Hipsters!

The way I see it, you've got two ways these of knowing which way your neighborhood is headed. If you've got bedbugs, you're going down. But if you have hipsters, oh happy days! And though it's freaky hard to believe and I totally don't get why, it looks to me like Arahmpett is on the way up.

So here's what I know. Tuesday I was helping out Gene and he tells me that someone bought up the old bank building at the end of the strip, the end that's not tied up in the Wilber estate. Anyway, someone bought it and there's fresh newspaper taped all over the inside windows, and that's all he -- or anybody -- knew to tell. Because if anybody knows,Gene finds out. That afternoon,this couple walks in, all Ernest Sewn jeans and vegan shoes. She's a very severe Eurasian with hacked off hair and she's wearing a wife beater with an necklace made of the contents of a hardware bin. He's got on those skinny black glasses, a frayed dress shirt and a baby sling. They're picking through stuff, getting all excited and taking pictures with their phones. I hear the word "sustainable." They give Gene some money for Sy Gioe's old Tiki bar and a box full of those Welch's jelly glasses with the Flintstones on them, and say they'll pick it all up later in the week.

Yesterday, early in the morning, Leonie calls me to ask me to dinner. Not ask, beg. They're entertaining some potential clients and she thinks maybe I'd be able to "relate to them and smooth things over". She actually asks me to "dress cool." So I threw on my "I heart (actual drawing of human heart) Reykjavik" tshirt and worn jeans that really fit, with some giant rubber earrings I picked up in Amsterdam back in the day and can only wear for a few hours without wanting to pull my lobes off. And as soon as I walked in, I kicked off my shoes so I'd be strutting around barefoot with toe rings. The group, 6 kids none a day over 30 to my eye, included the pair from the thrift store -- not to mention the baby, who fortunately slept most of the time, except when he had to nurse. And let me tell you, that he didn't bark his head on mommy's necklace doing so was a major miracle!

Glasses...or Zach as I now should call him, turns out to be a painter (and on his website, which I checked as soon as I got home, his work looks interesting). Jenn, the wife is a sommelier. All of this is part of the story. The hunky guy with the incredibly pale grey eyes looked familiar. Then I remembered staring at the line from his shoulders to his butt one day when I was helping out in the Green Mountain tasting room. He, Alec, turns out to be a chef and Jenn's brother-in-law. Sophie, his wife (Jenn's sister) writes feminist graphic novels (I had no idea). The others were Jai and Pomona who aren't a couple but are partners in their own clothing line. Alec and Jenn went to Johnson Wales together and have been wanting to open their own place ever since. Now...lately, I guess...they've been working together at a moderately hot place downtown and trying to scrape together the financing to move on.

It seems that even Brooklyn is getting too pricey for the young and hip -- it's what always happens; the artists build up a neighborhood and then get driven out. So they've been looking for alternatives. After the tasting, they were so impressed with Green Mountain that they started wondering about the neighborhood and rode around. They saw a nearby beach, an easy drive to the Hamptons and tons of cheap, abandoned real estate. Eureka, apparently. Cashing in on their tiny holes in Prospect Park, they were able to buy the old Woolworths and two houses, Jenn's with a big enough garage to turn into a painting loft for Zach. When they told Jai and Pomona and drove them out to see, those two got so excited they traded in their loft in LIC to come along.

Jenn and Alec want REU ...which stands for Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and when I knew that was from Hitchhiker's Guide, I got a nice shot of respectful attitude....they want REU to be "as local as possible", so they're getting their produce from nearby farms and cheese from that crazy hippie over near Riverhead. And they want to get a lot of wine from Green Mountain. Now this is all great on paper, and I wasn't going to be the one to say anything to discourage them and screw up a sale, but Peter, who may be the most honest guy I ever knew (okay, him and Jeff), asked them flat out where they thought they'd get customers for this kind of place. You know, it really smacked me in the face, the confidence and optimism of being that young. These kids just waved him off with a smile. REU is going to be a combination restaurant and food shop, and they figure if they build it people will come. Specifically people like themselves. Total certainty that just by them coming here and staking a claim and cooking and making art, others like them will start to come and before we all know it, we'll have a whole hipster colony. My mind is still boggling, and I've had all day to think about it (and sleep off the excess wine!).

If nothing else, this is going to be fun to watch, right? First off, I want to see what they do with that tiki bar!

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