Rooftops, Gardens, and a New Summer Solstice Opening: Café Colette

Yesterday, June 21st, was the worst day of the year for vampires and nocturnal creatures. The longest day of the year started with sunrise at a ghastly “you better carry sunglasses in your pocket or purse” 5:24am and ended at a “how can I eat dinner while it’s still bright out?” 8:31pm. Of course, it’s all downhill from here, until December 21st, when we see the weak winter sun at 7:16am and let it go at 4:31pm. At a friends-and-family lunch at Café Colette at 9th Street and Berry, I spoke to my friend, super model Alex Linquist, about a trip he’s making to Stockholm where it’s basically daylight all summer and darkness all winter. How can there be a nightlife when there is so much daylight?

The summer brings extra heat to a club’s bottom line. Besides the traveling regulars and the weekend Hampton escapees, there is the added pressure of a shorter night. This time of year we only get 9 hours of night out of a 24-hour day. These are long, hot, muggy days, and they can be very physically taxing. People often opt for dinner and then home, with their flat screen, air-conditioner, and cool sheets. An added dilemma is the emergence of the rooftop party during the day and at night. With romantic views of our metropolis, this back-to-nature approach to nightlife and a few brave stars are taking a huge chunk of loot from customers’ wallet. 230 Fifth Avenue, with the Empire State Building looming, has dominated this scene for years. The emergence of the Rooftop at the Ganesvoort hotel, and, of course, the roof at the ultra chic Standard, leaves joints with no view—let alone no windows—hurting. Many outdoor places are compelled to close their roof top spaces relatively early, and there is a buzz about legislated limitations and industry standards. But for now, a proper rooftop soiree is the answer many club patrons are looking for.

Regular clubs sometimes get a late night rush from the early closing of nearby roofs or backyards, but they are only slammed for 2 or 3 hours this time of year, and must squeeze as much loot from their patrons as possible during the brief window. My design firm is in conversations with 4 different ownership groups about developing roof projects for next year. The development of outdoor properties will accelerate until it becomes passé, or is stopped by city agencies, who seem determined to stop everything.

For me, I’ll accept a little less night and a lot more brunch, for now. Café Colette offers me yet another inspiring place in New York’s most inspired borough, Brooklyn. I’m now in BK at least 3 nights a week, and sometimes 6. It is all things to all people, and as I look around Manhattan, I’m hard-pressed to find places that get me through the night. I know I’m a little late—my friends are relentless with their “I told you so’s,” which is always countered with a few “better late than never’s.”

Manhattan just doesn’t provide me with as many reasons to be cheerful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to visit, but I don’t think I want to live here anymore. My friend Julie Park has a piece of Café Colette. She is currently cross commuting from her downtown apartment but will make the move as well, eventually. She has worked everywhere from La Esquina to the Maritime to the Thompson L.E.S. She hooked up with my man Zeb Stewart at Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano and Union Hall, and that was that. They brunched me on Sunday as they put the finishing touches on the place just before they unleashed it on the public.

Julie was gushing over her “baby,” asking everyone about everything, making it just right. Zeb pointed to a vintage fan that was the inspiration for the design. The place is fabulous, with a stamped tin ceiling, concrete bar face, and zinc top. They clad an old fridge in zinc as well, and polished molded concrete for the tables. We bathed in some of the 900 minutes of sunlight sneaking through the southern window. We ate everything they put before us and had amazing Stumptown coffee and flourless chocolate cake at the end. Zeb brings a winning smile, enthusiastic conversation, and a love of collecting classic cars to his joints. Julie brings systems learned from Serge Becker, Jason Pomerantz, Eric Goode, and Sean MacPherson. She knows her shit. Café Colette is wonderful and it is now officially open.

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