© Photo by The General Design Co.
While fashionable restaurants tap noted clothing designers to create staff uniforms (Narciso Rodriguez for Del Posto, Maria Cornejo for Buddakan and Morimoto), the owners and seriously talented chefs at supercasual restaurants and bakeries (Momofuku; Resto; Sullivan Street Bakery; Portland, Oregon’s Pearl Bakery) have their staff sporting comfy T-shirts with hip designs and witty sayings. The ever-growing trend inspired a post on the food blog Serious Eats last month declaring the restaurant shirt the new concert tee.
Lately, the restaurant shirt has become my souvenir of choice to bring back to food-obsessed friends. A few weekends ago I was in Washington DC and had brunch at chef Jamie Leeds’s awesome new gastropub CommonWealth. The hearty, Brit-inspired food—Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, bubble and squeak—and impressive U.K.-focused beer list are complemented by the staff’s clever T-shirts. My favorite was an organic-cotton tee depicting a beer butcher chart. Leeds originally wanted a pig motif but realized she needed to incorporate the pub side of CommonWealth into the shirt. She approached the General Design Co., the same designers who created the restaurant’s logo, to brainstorm the perfect marriage of the two. The parts of the bottle are loosely based on parts of livestock and bottles, and all of the phrases (“Thanks mate” and “Oh, you little tart”) are based on “Britishisms.” If you read the chart closely, you can follow how the course of events/dialogue might take place as you get through a beer.