Chalk Point Kitchen and its downstairs lounge, The Handy Liquor Bar, are the latest openings from New York restauranteur and entrepreneur, Matt Levine. It’s not surprising that the two have quickly become hot spots with the meticulously detailed decor, farm fresh ingredients and a staff that is particularly stylish, even by Manhattan’s lofty standards. We stopped by the always bustling spots to chat with the staff about their unique style and the beautiful new space.
“I like to hire creativity and passion over resumes. It’s not what you’ve done in the past, it’s about your goals for the future and how you will translate that art and passion into helping us build and grow our food & beverage. I always tell my staff, your uniform is your personality, dress to express yourself. As for my personal style, I live down the block on the Bowery, so I am generally here seven days a week, 15 hours a day. It’s hard for me to describe my style — pretty casual. I’m an Air Force 1 and Dunks Low dude, and I pretty much rock button-ups everyday. My style is the same whether I am at Chalk Point Kitchen or kicking it with friends at a BBQ."
Matt Levine, Farm Fresh Menu
“I try to eat healthy, but I also think many chefs are focusing more on creating healthier menus. Our chef is a pioneer in sustainable seafood and an active member of the Blue Ocean Institute, Chefs Collaborative and Monterey Bay Aquarium. He really focuses on only utilizing local and organic produce. We’ve recently expanded our shared vegetable section and vegan options, based on guest requests.”
Vivienne Achieng, Server
"I'm from Kenya, which influences my style, though I've been here 21 years. I shop all over — everything from Nordstrom to Forever 21. I'm a waitress here, but I used to teach dance and still perform as well as help run a not-for-profit that helps underprivileged villagers in Kenya."
Zebetee Row, Bartender
"I'm from Melbourne, but I've been here for almost a decade. I'm a bartender...you gotta try the cocktails when you're working, right? My favorite is the Pueblo Old Fashion from our menu downstairs. As for my style, it's very throwback 60s/70s, but I'm not strict about anything. If I feel like wearing women's clothes, I'll wear women's clothes. Most of my stuff is vintage. I get great things at Texas and Connecticut flea markets. My hat is from Goorin Brothers; growing up I'd save to buy their hats. Now I have a bunch because I'm in a band, Harmonica Lewinsky, and we performed at SXSW...they paid us in hats, which is pretty awesome if you wear hats."
John Clements, Cook
"I work in the kitchen, so I cover up my clothes with a white apron. Underneath, I usually have on a plain T-shirt and old sneakers. My style is pretty simple. My tattoos, however, are 12 years in the making and I've had some renowned artists do some of them. As far as the food here, I like pretty much everything, but the mussel dish is my favorite."
Eli Servance III, Bartender
"I love color — even in the winter. You can catch me in turquoise at the corner bodega the day before Christmas. I bounce around as far as where I shop; there's no rhyme or reason. When I'm working, though, I wear a white shirt, which usually isn't a problem unless I'm juicing. Juicing is a mess, especially the kale...it's a nightmare. Our bar downstairs has more what I'd call 'old man drinks,' while upstairs is focused on seasonal drinks. I call the upstairs drinks 'creepers' because they taste fresh and light, but they're strong, so they'll creep up on you. My favorite drink is from our downstairs menu, the Old Old Hickory."
Dani Mueller, Server
"I'm the head server here. I've been with IndieFORK for three years, so I was here when it was all gutted out and Matt and his team were building out the space. My style at work is reflective of my style in my everyday life. I wear a lot of vintage. I love Beacon's Closet, but I shop all over. I tend to stick to a 50s style, which ties into my music. I like a 50s pencil skirt and red lip. I'm a singer/songwriter. My music is very jazz, blues, New Orleans-influenced. I have a full band; we just released an album on iTunes and had our release party downstairs."
Min Bahn, Bartender
"I'm doing some prep work for the bar before we open. Prepping all of our juices usually takes about an hour. Right now, I'm straining the pulp out of the pineapple juice. I used to worry about my clothes getting dirty, but now I'm kind of like if it gets dirty, go get another shirt, and if it's so expensive that you're going to get upset about it, don't wear it behind the bar."
Dave Turk, Bartender
"This is what I have to wear bartending, but I actually really don't like it. I'm not into the tie...my style is more casual. I can walk into any place in a tank top, black jeans and black shoes. Black is my color even in the summer."
Lee Tilghman, Executive Assistant
"What I wear depends on what I'm doing and the kind of music I'm listening to. I'm very into music. I travel and go to the various festivals, but I don't dress up. My style is very minimal when I'm at a festival because everyone is wearing crazy outfits — it's almost like by not drawing attention to myself with my outfit, I draw attention because it's so different."
Amy Safrankova, Server
"I do make a conscious effort to think about what I wear to work. I keep comfort top-of-mind and like to wear things with pockets, so things are always accessible. I definitely try to stay away from light and flimsy clothes that might get in the way when I'm serving. Outside of Chalk Point Kitchen, I'm an actress and yoga instructor. Matt is very supportive, which is great. We actually did an event out in the Hamptons at the Capri and I led yoga classes...everyone was doing yoga on Chalk Point Kitchen branded mats!"
Cesar Razza, Server
"I shop a lot at Urban Outfitters. I'd describe my style as relaxed, but cute. I try not to wear things that are too expensive in case they get dirty...not worth risking it."
Hillery Delmanowski, Hostess
"I'm a hostess here. I moved to NYC to model from Arizona where I went to school. I'd describe my style as grungy-casual. I wear a lot of leather and black. I'm wearing all black today, but I actually try to wear more color when I'm at work."
Petra Winer, Hostess
"I'm a cocktail waitress and a model on the side. I love crop tops and boots. I used to play a lot of sports in high school, so my style has a sportswear influence — always that mix of tomboy and girly, and I love my backpack...I hate handbags! This backpack fits everything — clothes, makeup, money...everything!"