Me and mine were told we had to visit the new restaurant/hotspot B.E.S. (Boutique Eat Shop) the other night. Patrick Duffy would take no excuse and I tend to accommodate his demands, as the results are always fabulous fun. I’d walk a million miles for one of his famous smiles and so we went. B.E.S. is located where the forgettable Open was forgotten and the regrettable Mr. West had us all leaning very east. It is an example of how a team with clarity can overcome the ignorance of men and make a perfectly great space that has been mishandled, well, great. Open should never have opened, but Mr. West had potential. It had money behind it and some well-known players both in front of the camera and hidden just below the surface. Yet it was, by all accounts, a disaster. The design was hideous and built to lose loot. It ignored function, lighting, acoustics, sight lines, entrance sequence, and did I say it looked hideous? Well I can’t say it enough. Then “they” staffed it with people who always looked like they wanted to be elsewhere. The triumph of B.E.S. is that it not only purges all that was wrong with it’s predecessors, but takes our nightlife experience to an exciting new level. Everything works. It’s a can’t-miss hit and I can’t wait to go back. Oh, right, that’s tonight for the “Fox in the Box” event.
B.E.S. boasts a “by artists for artists” slogan that rings very true. The staff are artists doing what NY talent does before things click. Everywhere you look, something wonderful looms. I asked Patrick to tell me all about the art that’s so much a focus of the design:
“Tim Goossens from PS1 is our consulting curator and he is tasked with keeping the art fresh, interesting, and sexy. Other contributing galleries are Peres Projects, Tracy Williams, and many more in the future. We are looking to become a hub for the creative community to come enjoy our space while walking the galleries, High Line, or the new park. The following artists contributed to our design:”
The House – Paul Reynolds Paul is an artist from Barcelona that stayed with me for 4 weeks while he was here building the “Natiloportem,” which is metropolitan backwards. He builds architectural models around antique miniatures. In our case, he turned the kitchen into a live art installation by making the workers and the goings-on in the kitchen a voyeuristic experience. You are connected to the chef through a little window or a tiny door. Its very surreal but fun for diners and a great conversation starter. He completes this breathtaking work of whimsy by creating a basement that will house a valuable 18th century writing set that belonged to French aristocracy. He is tracing the lineage at the moment via Christies in London and it will be installed at a later date.
The Bar – Tom Beale This master wood worker has come up with a very intricate and breathtaking design. The result is a quilted, tufted, custom, one-of-a-kind wood under-bar with hand cast lucite cut outs that are illuminated from behind to make this incredible installation sparkle. Tom created an actual model of our bar in his studio, hand-cut and sanded and pieced every single diamond of reclaimed wood to make something almost impossible to copy or recreate. He uses dyes from coffee, beets, wine, and berries to create the multi-color effect on the wood. Each section of wood is basically eyeballed and “cut to fit.”
The Chandelier – Andrew Poneros. Renowned urban artist Andrew Poneros works in many mediums: graffiti, textile design, glass, and light. In this case he created a beautiful chandelier from gorgeous reclaimed wine jugs and sake bottles. With this signature “serpent” and references from Greek literature and urban folklore in combination with his unique “ship in a bottle” like creative process, he creates scenes inside every single bottle. Each one tells its own story. The effect is mesmerizing. It looks like a harvest moon, the light it throws off makes people radiate and glow from within.
Artwork – Maria Pineres Maria specializes in needlepoint. Her recent body of work focuses on erotic nature art. In our case she created 2 works, one of a male and one of a female to differentiate the men and women bathrooms. She took her work and superimposed it on the door to beyond life-size. The effect is stunning and highly graphic. You don’t realize what you are looking at at first glance but soon the image comes clear and you recognize that it is actually string from a very intricate needle work. The female is a full frontal nude that resembles Brigitte Bardot and the men’s bathroom show the backside of a man from what could be a pulp novel from the 60s or 70s.
As a designer, I appreciate the level of detail employed in this collaborative effort. Patrick told me “The space itself is designed to be intimate but give people space.” Every table in the place was more interesting than the next and came with a story. I asked him about the over-the-top bathroom sinks. He told me they went for 6 grand apiece. They are beautiful. He kept saying “we’re not finished with this yet,” but it is absolutely marvelous as it is, and I got very jealous.
The food by Chef Charles was fantastic but I’ll let others far more qualified rave about it. I told Patrick I wasn’t at all hungry so he brought me everything on the menu. The meal was a revelation. Patrick told me, “we have also created ‘SB’ style dining, which stands for “skinny bitch.'” It’s a lower carbohydrate, lower fat option. Just as much effort (I have been told) went into the cocktails from master mixologist Seth. Patrick’s favorite is the MC ultra, named after B.E.S. partner (along with husband Donald) Mary Catherine Mikula. The crowd was a special mix of fashionable folks with more fashionable folk and some other fashionable types thrown in. It was a mixed crowd of the beautiful and cool, gay and straight, and those in between, above it and below it all. It was smart conversations and table hoping from the “smart set,” recognizable faces and some I’ll never forget. Every member of the staff was friendly and fun. When my special someone went out to smoke a cigarette she was joined by a maitre d’ who went out and entertained her and made her feel un-alone. It was class and chivalry. It was a thousand little things that made my experience to die for. B.E.S. is the best joint to open in a long while. I’ll be there tonight. This time Patrick didn’t have to ask twice.