Not Just for Ladies Who Lunch: New Stores Feature Food Options to Fuel Shoppers

A new trend finds tasty treats for sale in sophisticated shops.

ByABC News
July 22, 2014, 4:25 AM
A small coffee bar operates out of swim shop Saturdays Surf NYC.
A small coffee bar operates out of swim shop Saturdays Surf NYC.
Saturdays Surf NYC

— -- Conventional wisdom tells us not to shop on an empty stomach.

But before you rummage around for the stale granola bar you once stashed in your bag, consider browsing the racks at one of the growing number of boutiques to sell snacks alongside slip dresses.

At such select retail outlets as the forthcoming Band of Outsiders store in SoHo and Urban Outfitters in Brooklyn, hungry customers can now snag coffees and croissants on their way to fitting rooms.

An early example of the trend opened on a leafy corner in SoHo almost five years ago. The decision to build a small espresso bar in Saturdays Surf NYC, a Perry Street swimwear store, was immediate and intuitive, "literally the first thing we thought of," store co-founder Morgan Collett said.

"Our whole process was very spontaneous," Collett said. "But as we contemplated our concept, the combination of retail and coffee was really easy for us to wrap our heads around."

Collett and partners Colin Tunstall and Josh Rosen maintain that the bar -- and a backyard deck on which to enjoy quality brews -- establishes an environment of genuine community in an often sterile retail space. Customers at Saturdays linger, and talk to and befriend baristas. More importantly, said Collett, they return and buy.

His instinct has proved prescient. In the years since Saturdays first pioneered the model, some of the most sophisticated shops in New York have set aside square footage for food and drink.

On Grand Street, downtown outfit American Two Shot lives up to its name. The boutique, which opened in 2012, tapped Cafe Integral to serve shots of espresso and "delicate pastries" to flagging customers.

In midtown, Rose Bakery tops British import Dover Street Market. For cafe co-owner Rose Carrarini, acquisition can be exhausting. The impossibly chic Briton declared, "After or before [a shopping day], you always need to restore yourself."

But necessity only tells part of the story.

Last week, luxury label Band of Outsiders announced that its New York flagship will host an independent Momofuku Milk Bar to sell patrons a selection of signature treats. Designer Scott Sternberg quipped that the move was "an authentic extension of what the brand is and what it stands for -- and that, of course, is cookies."

"No, I’m kidding. But I think there’s sort of a depth and breadth to Band of Outsiders," he added. "It's a brand that means more than just clothes."

Sternberg is thus in the business of creating not only "a great place to shop," but also a "place where you can come and hang out."

Sternberg hopes that the presence of local baked goods will ensure Band of Outsiders is received as more "than just a shop that some L.A. brand put up in New York to sell some clothes."

Sternberg is not the only one to capitalize on East Coast appeal to leverage a West Coast institution.

This week, chef Ilan Hall will debut an outpost of his cultish Los Angeles restaurant the Gorbals. Housed at the elaborate Urban Outfitters complex in Williamsburg, the Gorbals is, itself, an unlikely combination. The cuisine is said to combine Scottish- and Israeli-inspired dishes.

And yet, a meld of food and fashion is no longer as improbable as it once was. Last year, sisters Danielle and Laura Kosann launched to celebrate the overlap between the lifestyle industries.

"[Food is] a connector of people," Danielle Kosann said. "It’s only natural that the two have kind of found their way to one another."

Echoing Collett, Kosann said that "a huge part of [shopping] is social."

Retail experiences that foster interactions between customers and brands are bound to succeed.

"Fashion is influenced by a lot of aspects of hospitality," Collett said. At Saturdays -- as at Dover Street Market, Band of Outsiders and Urban Outfitters -- the two "can now literally co-exist in a retail space."

Collett has yet to frequent the others, but he concedes this much: It all sounds delicious.

PHOTO: The brand brews a custom-blend of La Colombe coffee beans in its Perry Street store.
The brand brews a custom-blend of La Colombe coffee beans in its Perry Street store.