The title of Coolest, Cutest Café in Tribeca can safely be handed over to Bikini Bar, which opened this week. (Actually it might be the Coolest, Cutest Business in Tribeca.) You’ve no doubt walked by the Duane Street storefront hundreds of times: It’s the one with vintage surfware and Hawaiiana visible in the window. You’ve probably wondered why it was never open.
Bikini Bar had been used for private events—I had a birthday party there!—with plans to open it as a café and juice bar. But after co-owner Stuart Smith died in a tragic accident in the summer of 2011, his wife, Aileen Oser, understandably took some time. (She posted a beautiful remembrance on their website.) The two of them shared a passion for surf style; they built their extraordinary collection over decades. The condition of everything is remarkable, and Stu and Aileen constructed a spectacular two-level home for it.
Stepping inside gives me a sweet nostalgic feeling, in that most of my dearest friends were gathered there a few years ago. But even for a newcomer it must be a total delight. If this place doesn’t warm your heart—and/or make you want to drop out and move to Hawaii, or at least Santa Monica—you might just be hopeless.
The coffee is from Counter Culture and available as pour-over and in espresso drinks. There’s no wi-fi, and the jukebox and pinball machines should be up and running soon. But the café is just part of the plan. Bikini Bar will eventually serve raw, organic, cold-pressed juices and raw foods, especially raw desserts. And it will sell custom paddleboards, as well as serve as a boutique for Aileen’s bikini designs. So think of it as a café/juice bar/surf shop—but not as an antiques shop, because the collection is not for sale.
Bikini Bar is at 148 Duane (between W. Broadway and Church), 212-571-6737; bikinibar.com. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although they may expand over time.
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