First Impressions: Bikini Bar

Bikini Bar facadeThe 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 tikiBikini 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.

Bikini Bar upsatirs2The 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; The hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although they may expand over time.

Bikini Bar main roomBikini Bar posterBikini Bar upstairsBikini Bar red chairsBikini Bar menuBikini Bar pinballBikini Bar ceilingBikini Bar coffee menuBikini Bar cappuccinoRecent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
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  1. I love this place!

  2. Can’t wait to stop by with my son.

  3. i’ve walked by hundreds of times over the past couple of years and the window just always makes me happy. so happy to now be able to stop in. wonderful story.

  4. Have always wanted to check this place out. Very exciting!

  5. went by today & the coffee was great! almond milk latte. very cozy too.

  6. a little spot of eternal summer – very happy to have it open!

  7. We checked it out this morning, and it was wonderful! It’s a great addition to the area. Tribeca has become a coffee paradise.